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Dartmouth sailors and a dog in blazing boat escape

Two sailors and their dog escaped a boat fire on a River Dart mooring at Kingswear – less than 200 yards from the scene of similar blaze days earlier.
Blue Storm, a 25ft Bayliner, caught fire in Dartmouth harbour at 11.15pm on Saturday, only five nights after the African Queen was badly damaged by fire.
The owners and their dog were on board and when they were unable to extinguish the blaze, believed to have started in the cooking area, they escaped in their own tender.
They were suffering from smoke inhalation but, following a check by ambulance crews, were able to return to Dartmouth to stay with friends.
Berry Head coastguard, Dart lifeboat, Torbay lifeboat, fire engines from Brixham, Dartmouth and Paignton, as well as Dart Harbour and Lower Ferry all responded to the call.
Witnesses said the fire was spotted around 11.10pm and just 40 minutes later the craft was beyond saving.
The vessel was moored on the Hoodown pontoon at Kingswear, luckily not close to other vessels, when the fire started.
Fire control was inundated with calls. Upon arrival, firefighters confirmed one boat was well alight.
The pontoon was not accessible from the shore land and fire crews had to be taken out on the ferry.
The Dart inshore lifeboat, helmed by Buster Hart, was launched at 11.34pm. Its first task, having established no one was on board the fiercely burning boat, was to take the Dartmouth fire commander Andy Callan across the harbour to the scene.
He ordered the first Dartmouth fire appliance to be taken on the ferry to the Blue Storm.
The lifeboat was then took two firemen, with their hose running from the appliance on the ferry, as close to the burning boat as they could safely be.
The fire burnt through the Blue Storm’s mooring lines and she drifted in light wind towards the Kingswear shore where she grounded.
The nearest boats were some 30 metres away and in no immediate danger.
The incident took place right on low tide and lifeboat crewmen were able to wade through the mud when the fire had burnt out to secure the Blue Storm to the Kingswear shore.
The tug of the ferry tug briefly grounded and has to be pulled free by the lifeboat.
The Torbay RNLI all-weather lifeboat arrived in the harbour at 12.10am but was not able to get close to the scene due to the shallowness of the water.
She remained until the ferry was clear of the yacht moorings.
The inshore lifeboat returned to station at 12.55am.
A Berry Head coastguard spokesman said: ‘The pontoon was only accessible by water and the fire tender was taken out on the Lower Ferry.
‘The fire brigade managed to get the vessel away from the pontoon, onto the mud. It was burnt out and sinking.
‘The whole incident was over by 1.30am. It is believed the fire probably started accidentally.’
Harbour master Captain Rob Giles said: ‘Investigators are still determining the exact cause of the African Queen fire but this one was witnessed by the owners on board, as a stove incident,’ he said. ‘There is absolutely no connection between the two.
‘The Lower Ferry was involved heavily and I would like to once again praise the skill of the vessel’s driver.’

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