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Friday, October 7, 2022
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Yacht Burns in Crown Bay

The KLM Black Pearl, smoldering on Thursday. (Photo Wally Bostwick)The KLM Black Pearl, a 100-foot black wooden yacht, is still holding its own above water after an engine room fire set it ablaze Thursday afternoon in Crown Bay.
It was the ill-fated yacht’s second day in new waters. According to various sources, the boat had been delivered to St. Thomas aboard the transport ship Beluga Project on Wednesday. That ship left Thursday morning.
Daryl George, V.I. Fire Service assistant director, said Hotel Company, (the downtown fire station) received a call at 1:32 that a boat was burning near the Crown Bay cruise ship dock.
He gave a graphic description of a dramatic, hot and anxious afternoon of joint efforts by several agencies, which succeeded in dousing the fire, and saving the vessel.
"When we responded, smoke was pouring out of the port windows. The firefighters began two charge lines into the vessel and discovered the fire was in the engine room. Once we located the fire, we called in additional resources," George said.
"We asked for assistance from the V.I. Port Authority rescue units to assist with foam, and we hooked up with them," he said. "The firefighters continued the attack and got the fire under control and contained to one area. We extinguished the fire and worked on the mop-up.
"We worked to salvage equipment from the boat and moved things off, because of the danger of sinking," George said.
Then, there was the problem of oil. "We deployed booms to prevent any oil from going into the harbor," George said.
He was effusive in his praise for his own men and the other agencies that helped in saving the yacht. "The Coast Guard, VIPA, Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Customs and Border Control, the EMTs, the police, everybody helped us to continue to extinguish the fire and prevent the boat sinking in the harbor."
George said Fire Chief Andre Smith and Deputy Chief Steven Hodge of Squad C did an excellent job. He said there were about 24 firefighters from all the agencies. "About 6:50 tonight, we wrapped it up, and all units went back to their stations."
U. S. Coast Guard Lt. Commander Dan Buchsbaum said Thursday evening that he had spent the last four hours assisting the V.I. Fire Department. He said, "We’ve all been helping out. We helped the Fire department mostly by providing information and coordinating the ship’s crew and the firemen to find a way inside of the boat."
None of the boat’s four-man crew was injured, Buchsbaum said.
Details about the boat’s owner are sketchy. Buchsbaum said the owner’s representative, whose name he didn’t have, had been working along with the crew on the boat, but had taken off to clean up.
"The boat is floating very nicely now," Buchsbaum said. "The fire department did an outstanding job. They put this one out very nicely. They are conducting an investigation now on the fire."
Erik Ackerson, director of the V.I. Charter Boat League, said he had heard that the boat was headed to St. Vincent, where it was to be converted to a bar and restaurant.
Buchsbaum said the boat’s owner was maintaining a fire watch on the boat, and had brought additional firefighting equipment aboard.

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