Oil cleaned up from stricken yacht

Clean up done by salvage crew employed by the owners of a 70-foot yacht that caught fire and sank off Swartz Bay July 10

Firefighters from North Saanich and Sidney help deploy oil containment booms around a yacht that caught fire and sank off of Swartz Bay Wednesday

A salvage crew employed by the owners of a 70-foot yacht that caught fire and sank off Swartz Bay July 10, has cleaned up most of the oil that came off of the vessel.

Dan Bate, Canadian Coast Guard communication officer, says they monitored the area during the clean up which saw the salvage crew and North Saanich firefighters deploy oil containment booms. Bate said there was still a small sheen of oil on the water the next day. He noted the surface spill was small and non-recoverable, adding it is expected to evaporate.

Firefighters from North Saanich and Sidney spent around seven hours pumping water onto the boat, which caught fire near Coal Island. It was towed closer to Swartz Bay so emergency crews could get close.

North Saanich Assistant fire Chief John Trelford says the call came in at around 10 a.m. and when firefighters arrived, they jumped onto an RCMP boat to get to the yacht. When they got there, he said the fire wasn’t large and smoke was coming out of the portholes. No one was injured and the owners were able to get off the Washington State-registered yacht.

“We sent a crew down into the boat to where the fire was,” he said, “but it was below the water line.”

The department is not trained to fight fires at that level, he explained, so had to withdraw and pour water on the flames from outside. Trelford said the fire appeared to start in the engine room of the vessel.

Fire Chief Gary Wilton confirmed the fire’s location on Monday, adding the owners deployed their on-board fire supression system but it did not extinguish the fire. The cause is not yet known.

Trelford said they had crews dousing the flames from the RCMP Zodiac and a tugboat offered up by its captain.

Only able to fight the fire from outside, the burning yacht was filled up with water.

By late afternoon, it had capsized and sank into around 20 feet of water.

Bate added the Coast Guard is pleased with the outcome of the incident, adding it could have been a lot worse.