Fire damages boats at Pirate Cove Marina in Portsmouth

Fire damages boats at Pirate Cove Marina in Portsmouth


Flames rise from two boats at Portsmouth’s Pirate Cove Marina Wednesday night. (Photo by Gary Vital)
PORTSMOUTH — Fire caused significant damage to two boats docked  at Portsmouth’s Pirate Cove Marina Tuesday night.

Marina crews towed boats on either side of the burning boats to safety.

The blaze was reported by 911 calls shortly at 7:57 p.m.. Portsmouth Fire Captain Mike O’Brien said. Crews from Portsmouth, assisted by Tiverton, Bristol and the Little Compton chief, fought to knock down the flames and prevent the blaze from spreading to other boats nearby. It took about an hour and a half to fully extinguish the fire.

Shawn McCarthy (right) owner of the charred 1958 power boat Circe, helps police while they conduct an investigation at Pirate Cove Marina in Portsmouth on Thursday.
Capt. O’Brien said one of the boats was built of wood, the other of fiberglass and that one was in apparent danger of sinking before it was hauled from the water by Pirate Cove employees.

A 20-pound propane tank on one of the boats caught on fire with “blowtorch effect” making the firefighters’ work more difficult.

Another challenge was the fact that the floating docks move “especially when walked on by firefighters carrying 65 or more pounds of gear … A real concern was that a firefighter might fall in and sink,” Capt. O’Brien said, especially since their vision is hampered by mask and helmet. “We took great care to make sure that that did not happen.”

Nobody was aboard the boats at the time and Capt. O’Brien said there were no injuries. Several of the finger piers to which the boats were tied sustained fire damage.

Later in the evening, the damaged boats were hauled from the water by boatyard equipment.

The two, both heavily damaged, are now parked down the road. The wooden boat, Circe, lists Portsmouth as a home port. The much newer fiberglass boat, Capcity, is home-ported in Bristol. Both are between 30 and 35 feet long.

There is no word yet on the extent of damage or any cause. An officer from the state fire marshal’s office is expected back Thursday morning to continue the investigation into the cause of the fire.

The state’s Marine Task Force, a group of fire boats from around the area, was alerted but the boats were cancelled en-route because the fire had been controlled.