June 22, 2018
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Lobstermen reach shore unscathed after boat catches fire

By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — A small lobster boat burned to its waterline Thursday close to the Rockland Breakwater as police and fire officials tried to keep summertime sightseers a safe distance away.

William Kirk, 69, and Jason Kirk, 28, both of Rockland, were out hauling traps at about 11 a.m. when they noticed a mechanical problem on board the boat, according to Assistant Chief Adam Miceli of the Rockland Fire Department.

“It quickly went from being a mechanical issue to a fire,” Miceli said.

The Kirks were able to pilot the burning boat to the Rockland Breakwater, where they were able to disembark safely, said Sebastian Arnsdorf, commander of Coast Guard Station Rockland.

He said that the Kirks recently had installed a new lobster pot hauler on the boat, and that was apparently what caught fire. A Coast Guard crew member working on the pier saw the smoke and called the station, Arnsdorf said.

The station sent a 25-foot boat, he said, adding that they do not have any boats capable of fighting fires.

Neither does the Rockland Fire Department, Miceli said.

“We didn’t really try to put it out. It was about 2,000 feet away from land, well out of the reach of our fire apparatus,” he said. “Where it was, it was going to be more hazardous to try and put it out. We let it burn.”

They also had to keep visitors to the breakwater away from the burning boat and the smoke, he said.

“It certainly made for more interesting pictures for everybody on the breakwater today,” Miceli said.

The city police boat pulled the burning lobster boat off the breakwater and tied it to a mooring, Miceli said.

“Once there, the Coast Guard crew men got special permission to extinguish the remaining fire, so everybody could leave,” Miceli said.

After the fire was extinguished, the Kirks planned to tow the ruined boat away, he said.

Arnsdorf, who took command of the station just three weeks ago, had something to say about his first month of duty.

“I was told this was a slow station — but I guess not in the summertime,” he said.

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