By RYAN KING
PORT AUX BASQUES – Last Monday morning, Aug. 16, residents in the Grand Bay West area were greeted to a rosy glow off the water. A boat had caught fire in the harbour just off the shore from Cabot Street. The small skiff caught fire in the early morning hours sometime between 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m., and while the fire department were quick to respond, thanks to a community effort by local residents, the fire was out by the time emergency services arrived.
Jerry Musseau is the Fire Chief for the Channel-Port aux Basques Volunteer Fire Department.
“Not much to it to tell you. We received a call. It was around 4 o’clock in the morning – that there was a boat fire over there in Grand Bay West. And before we got out of the fire station we got the call back saying that they now have the fire out,” said Musseau.
Once firefighters arrived on scene the destruction caused the by fire was immediately evident.
“Anyway, we from the Grand Bay station still went out and went over to have a look. There was a boat there that was on fire. The engine was burnt and a bit of the boat was burnt, but they did have it out. That was all that was to it. We didn’t have to do anything,” said Musseau.
Musseau noted that the RCMP arrived on scene to take a statement from the owner, but could not clarify what caused the blaze.
“The boat was out moored off from the shore, so exactly what took place for it to take fire, like there was nobody in the boat at the time. It was moored off,” said Musseau.
The fire was enough to wake nearby residents during the night.
“Somebody – to my understanding – heard a bang throughout the night, and that’s when they called it in. And the owner was called, and I guess he got it out before we got over there,” said Musseau.
The owner of the boat, Garth Lomond, was sound asleep when his boat began to burn. He lives just up the street from where he kept it moored.
“Well, when I was down there, the fire was going,” said Lomond. “My niece called me and said, ‘The boat is on fire.’ So, I went down and hauled her in, and I douted her then. Then the fire brigade and all of that came.”
He also has no idea what may have caused his boat to catch fire.
“I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if the motor, if something grounded out in the motor, or what it was,” said Lomond.
Lomond wasn’t the only one who dashed to the scene. The community banded together in the early hours, alerted not just by the noise, but thanks to the help of a passerby who saw the fire and took the initiative to start knocking on doors.
“Well, I got down there around, I believe it was 3:30 a.m. But it was a young boy walking across the road there that seen the fire, and he went down and pounded on one of the doors and got them up,” shared Lomond.
Despite the group effort to bring the boat ashore and extinguish the flames, it proved unsalvageable.
“No, it’s all gone,” said Lomond. “It was all in flames over there. Got water, got a bucket of water, and kept pouring the water into her. Kept dipping the water into her ’till it was out. That’s all I know b’y. She was on fire when I got there.”