YARMOUTH, N.S. – A lobster fishing vessel at the wharf on the Town Point Wharf in Rockville, Yarmouth County, was destroyed by fire the afternoon of April 24.
Firefighters from several departments fought the blaze that comes just over a month before the end of commercial lobster season. Other fishermen at the wharf – after moving their boats out of harm’s way away from the flames – then did what they could to help douse the fire on the boat and the wharf by circling around using hoses on their vessels. They were also able to get firefighters closer to the boat and to the underside of the wharf to fight the fire.
The fire started before 3 p.m.
“I was sitting at my desk and I happened to look out my window and saw big puffs of smoke,” said Tracy Porter of Rockville Carriers, the lobster pound located adjacent to the wharf. She and her son Nicky again looked out the window and saw a boat in flames. This was around 2:55 p.m.
When firefighters arrived on the scene the boat – Gail’s Force II – which was tied on the inside of the wharf – was ablaze and thick, black smoke was billowing from it.
Parts of the wharf also caught on fire and flames could be seen.
Vehicles that were on the wharf had been moved off of it, with the exception of one truck that couldn’t be driven off the wharf because of the location of the fire. It remains on the end of the wharf.
At the time this story was written it was not known what caused the fire. There was no report of injuries.
Hank Nickerson, the incident commander from the Yarmouth Fire Department, said firefighters initially started fighting the fire that was engulfing the boat.
“We got that under control and then started fighting the fire on the wharf. We did have assistance from local fishermen, using their vessels to help us get underneath the wharf,” he said. “They were a great help to us. If it wasn’t for that it would have been harder for us.”
The wharf had a lot of creosote, which also complicated the matter said Nickerson.
“It’s hard to fight. You need a lot of water and lot of foam to fight that,” he said.
No other boats caught fire.
Fishing boats helped to douse the wharf from both sides.
Nickerson said it wasn’t safe to put any vehicles – including firetrucks – on the fire damaged section of the wharf, which is why the fishing boats were so helpful.
Seven boats normally dock at this wharf, but some boats were out fishing and weren’t in yet. The boats that do use this wharf, however, will have to find another wharf to tie up to as the wharf itself here is badly damaged. Tanker truckers filled up with water from a hydrant at the town limits many kilometres away and ferried water to the wharf to keep putting water on the wharf itself. They were still making trips back and forth for hours to keep putting fire on the wharf.
There are lobster cars that hold crates of lobsters on the outer side of the wharf.
Numerous fire departments responded to the blaze, including Yarmouth, Wedgeport, Port Maitland, Eel Brook and Lake Vaughn.
At one point a tow line was fastened to the boat and fishermen and bystanders pulled the rope to drag the boat to a better area to fight the fire.