Gurney's Inn
January 03, 2007

Catastrophe in Montauk Averted

The smoke could be seen all the way to Barnes Landing. Last Thursday afternoon firefighters in Montauk were called to a boat blaze at the Star Island Yacht Club. In less than 20 minutes volunteers extinguished a "hot" fire that, unchecked, could have had disastrous ramifications, according to East Hampton Town Police Captain Ed Ecker. "The Montauk Fire Department did a great job, it could have been a real catastrophe," he said.

The boat, a 1977 Silverline, was in the last slip at the dock. To get to it, volunteers had to weave through a maze of dry docked vessels, many of which had full fuel tanks, Ecker said, explaining that boats are often dry docked with full fuel tanks to prevent condensation and damage to fuel systems.

On top of the nearby boats, the Silverline, described by Harbor Master Ed Michels as "an old cabin cruiser," uses gasoline instead of diesel fuel. "That made it exceptionally dangerous," Michels said. His office received the call about the fire at 11 minutes before four. By the time his crew reached the scene, around 11 minutesa after four, the fire was out.

According to Ecker, a man working as a mechanic at the marine basin was living on the boat. "Thank God he wasn't there" when the fire broke out, Ecker said. Preliminary indications are that an electric space heater the resident left on sparked the blazed. The boat, Ecker said, "was destroyed."

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