Fireball engulfs boat in creek

A MAN is today recovering after a narrow escape when a “fireball” engulfed his motor boat as he refuelled at his mooring in Martlesham Creek.

MARTLESHAM: A man is today recovering after a narrow escape when a “fireball” engulfed his motor boat as he refuelled at his mooring in Martlesham Creek.

The 25ft motor cruiser, called Spirit, was totally destroyed by the fire which raged for about half-an-hour at Martlesham Creek Boatyard, in Church Lane, at lunchtime yesterday.

The owner of the boat, David Hamilton, was lucky to walk away from the incident unscathed as an electrical fault caused a spark to ignite as he was refuelling his boat with petrol.

Other boat owners rushed to help Mr Hamilton as he tried to fight the 15ft high flames.

They tried using fire extinguishers and pushed other boats, moored alongside Spirit, a safe distance from the encroaching fire which started to scorch the wooden pier.

Roy Barton, 60, who also has a boat moored in the creek, said he was up a ladder when he suddenly heard a “huge explosion” and saw a “fireball” surround the boat.

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He said: “It was terrifying, there was the explosion, a fireball and then a cloud of black smoke and the boat just burnt and burnt. One of the guys pushed nearby boats out of the way. You don't face this kind of thing every day, but everyone just pulled together and reacted straight away.”

Michael Ingham, owner of the boatyard said he was in his barge when he noticed the flames billowing from the cockpit, and called the fire brigade before rushing to help.

“In these situations there is a real danger the fire will spread to other boats in the marina. The owner of the boat was refuelling when the fire broke out. It is a right-off. There must be about �20,000 of damage.”

Ipswich and District group manager Geoff Pyke, based at Princes Street fire station, said the boat was “completely destroyed” and praised crews for their quick work to tackle the fire.

Watch manager Adrian Mason from Woodbridge fire station said the flames had reached around 10ft to 15ft by the time he arrived with the first crew.

“We were faced with a serious fire on board the vessel. Our main priority was to put the fire out and to deal with the gas cylinders on board as well.”

Mr Hamilton was too distressed to speak about the incident.