NEWBURYPORT – A 42-foot sportfishing boat burned at the wharf near the harbormaster's building Friday afternoon, catching fire while the captain and mate were waiting to unload an Atlantic bluefin tuna.
No one was injured when "Hit List" suddenly caught fire around 5:30 p.m. Friday while tied up near the harbormaster's headquarters on the waterfront. After the smoky fire burned for about an hour the boat sank to the bottom, with most of its deck and cabin still above water. By 6:30 p.m. a diver from TowBoatsUS craft Unity was in the water inspecting damage.
When the first call came in, Fire Chief Christopher LeClaire said the captain and crewman had already gotten off the boat as black smoke poured out of the cabin.The department said in a press release that Deputy Fire Chief Stephen Bradbury was in command at the scene.
Firefighters climbed down a ladder to try to put out the blaze, which was inside the hull or cabin. One firefighter tried in vain to smash through the fiberglass on top of the bow but ended up smashing and kicking in the windshield of the craft, as smoke billowed out.
About 20 minutes after an engine arrived, the city fireboat Raven arrived but it appeared the crew was having difficulties getting enough water pressure to blast a stream of saltwater at the burning pleasure boat.
At 6 p.m. an order went over the emergency radio frequency that all firefighters should get off the boat.
The vessel was deemed a total loss. LeClaire said the cause of the fire is under investigation by his department and Harbormaster Paul Hogg.