Fire destroys 40-foot boat at Norwich marina

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Norwich — A stubborn fire destroyed one boat before it sank and damaged two others Wednesday at the Marina at American Wharf in Norwich Harbor.

The fire was reported shortly before 7 p.m., and the 40-foot boat was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. Firefighters donned masks to protect themselves from the smoke emitted from the burning fiberglass and plastic.

Norwich Fire Chief Kenneth Scandariato said firefighters moved quickly to protect the two neighboring boats, both of which were saved from any major damage. Firefighters moved the two boats away from the flames and hosed them down before focusing their attention on the major blaze.

Firefighters used a firefighting foam in an attempt to control flames that continued to flare up in various parts of the boat. They also used a boom to try to contain any leaking gasoline from the 400-gallon tank. At one point Scandariato said gasoline was burning on the surface of the water.

A nearby boat owner, George Schmidt, identified the burning boat as the Black Pearl. Schmidt lives year- round on his boat at the marina and is docked across from the Black Pearl. He was inside watching television with his wife when he heard what he described as a tapping noise.

“When I looked out the door it was roaring,” Schmidt said. “It was completely involved in flames.”

After several hours of containing and trying to extinguish the flames, the boat listed to the side, capsized and sank.

Scandariato said the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was on scene to assess any environmental concerns.

Scandariato said he expected “an extended cleanup effort,” associated with the fire and the follow-up operation to pull the boat up and out of the water.

Scandariato said it was the first boat fire in recent memory in Norwich, but firefighters had trained for this type of scenario.

The Norwich fire marshal’s office will be joined by the state fire marshal in the investigation into the fire’s cause. Norwich firefighters were joined at the scene by a Mohegan Tribal Fire Department firefighter assistance team.

g.smith@theday.com

Twitter: SmittyDay

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