Coast Guard rescues 2 from burning boat on St. Marys River

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SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — The Coast Guard rescued two people from a burning boat on the St. Marys River in the vicinity of Sugar Island, Mich., Thursday morning.

At approximately 9:10 a.m., a communications watchstander at Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., overheard a distress call via VHF-FM channel 16 reporting that a 17-foot pleasure craft was fully engulfed in flames near Sugar Island on the St. Marys River. The distress call was made by a good Samaritan in the area at the time of the fire.

Two boatcrews aboard 25-foot Respone Boats-Small, from Coast Guard Station Sault Ste. Marie, responded and were on scene within minutes of the initial distress call. One of the RB-S crews retrieved the two boaters before they had to enter the water.

A 17-foot pleasure craft is fully engulfed in flames near Sugar Island on the St. Marys River, Aug. 29, 2013. The Coast Guard rescued two people from the boat after they overheard a distress call from a good Samaritan at approximately 9:10 a.m., via VHF-FM channel 16. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Kerr, executive petty officer of Station Sault Ste. Marie.

A 17-foot pleasure craft is fully engulfed in flames near Sugar Island on the St. Marys River, Aug. 29, 2013.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Kerr, executive petty officer of Station Sault Ste. Marie.

“The good Samaritan who quickly notified the Coast Guard via VHF-FM channel 16 allowed us to respond rapidly before the already dangerous situation escalated to people in the water,” said Cmdr. Richard Kavanaugh, chief of response at Sector Sault Ste. Marie. “I’m proud of our Coast Guard crews who arrived on scene within minutes of the initial distress call preventing a bad situation from getting worse.”

A Customs and Border Protection boatcrew also responded to the fire, as well as a fire boat from the Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, Canada Fire Department. The fire boatcrew extinguished the fire while the two RB-S crews and CBP boat maintained a safety zone around the burning vessel.

“This case demonstrates the strength of the Coast Guard’s partnerships with CBP and the Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, Canada Fire Department. Both agencies flawlessly coordinated their response efforts with the Coast Guard and proved to be invaluable assets in this joint rescue effort,” said Kavanaugh.

After the fire was extinguished, the Coast Guard removed the boat from the navigable waterway. The owner of the boat is making arrangements with a commercial salvage company to remove the boat from the water.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time and there were no injuries or pollution reported.

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