Jan. 6, 2005 A power boat with twin 200-horsepower engines caught fire Thursday afternoon near Crown Bay, threatening the safety of an even bigger vessel in its path.
According Steve Parris, deputy director of the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency, the 24- to 28-foot power boat had just finished refueling at the Crown Bay Marina when the fire occurred.
The operator of the boat was rescued by marine officers from the Planning and Natural Resources Department who Parris said happened to be in the Crown Bay area when the fire first broke out at 1:14 p.m.
The boat operator suffered second-degree burns to his hands and was taken to the Roy L. Schneider Hospital for treatment, Parris said.
At one point the burning power boat drifted toward the south side of the southern pier in Crown Bay where the biggest mega-yacht in the world was docked.
According to eye-witness Hal Borns, the burning boat went from north to south off the bow of Rising Sun, the 450-foot mega-yacht owned by Larry Ellison, Oracle chief executive officer. (See "World's Biggest Megayacht Makes a St. Thomas Stop").
Borns said crew members on the luxury yacht were shooting water across Rising Sun at the burning vessel in an effort to protect the the swan ship of legendary yacht designer Jon Bannering, who died in 2002.
St. Thomas-Water Island Administrator James O'Bryan Jr. also went to the scene Thursday afternoon. He said the situation appeared to intensify briefly as the burning boat began to drift and the fuel tanks apparently burst.
"The boat was on fire out in the middle harbor and drifted towards Island Marine in the Sub Base," O'Bryan said. "Fortunately there were a lot of response vehicles in proximity," he said, adding, "At this point they have brought the fire under control but it was a little nip and tuck for a time."
The name of the burned vessel has not been ascertained, nor has the name of the owner, according to Parris.
The boat fire was extinguished through a combined effort of DPNR, the V.I. Fire Service and a private vessel operated by Atlantis Submarine which also happened to be in the vicinity. Police also responded to the scene.
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