On July 16, the U.S. Coast Guard rescued four fishermen following a fire on the 79-foot F/V MISS INGRID LOUIS. The incident occurred about three miles east of Nassau Sound near Jacksonville, Fla. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
According to Captain Willie Allen, the four men had gone to bed around midnight with plans to resume work in the morning. Crewmember Richard Wiggins awoke around 4 a.m. to the smell of smoke, and the crew then discovered smoke billowing from the engine room. Attempts to put out the flames were unsuccessful, and the fire knocked out the vessel’s radio equipment.
Allen used his cell phone to call a fellow shrimper on the F/V RUSSELL LEE, who notified the Coast Guard about the fire. Allen and Coast Guard watchstanders were then able to make contact via his cell phone. After activating the vessel’s emergency beacon, releasing a life raft and marking the spot with flares, Allen ordered his crew to put on their life jackets and abandon ship.
According to Allen, who was treated for smoke inhalation, “tree size” flames shot up from the top of the vessel as they paddled away. The F/V MISS INGRID LOUIS ultimately sank after crews from several agencies battled the blaze until about 9:15 a.m.
When a boat fire breaks out, having proper safety equipment can mean the difference between life and death. Foremost, the vessel should have the proper equipment to put out the fire, whether by fire extinguisher or fire suppression system. There should also be the proper life saving equipment if the crew has to abandon the vessel. Without a life raft, crewmembers might be forced to jump into perilous waters, and without life jackets, they could drown while awaiting rescue. Lack of emergency flares or an emergency beacon can increase the time it takes for rescuers to locate the crew, and injured crewmembers could die in the meantime. The failure to have this equipment can be considered negligence and creating an unseaworthy vessel, which entitles the injured party to damages under maritime law.
Did a boat fire or other fishing accident injure you or kill your loved one? Contact a Boston maritime attorney today for a free consultation.
Latti & Anderson LLP – Boston maritime trial lawyers