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Investigation into York boat fire
THE cause of a "spectacular" boat fire in York is still under investigation today, the city's fire chief has said.
Graham Buckle, Fire and Rescue Service Group Manager for York, has spoken after a blaze destroyed a 47' private boat moored near King's Staith.
The fire started at around 7pm but burnt long into the night as 35 firefighters battled to contain the flames.
"This was an unusual incident. We don't see many boat fires, but it was made easier for us by the boat being moored so we didn't have to ferry equipment into the middle of the river," Mr Buckle said.
In a 27-year career, Mr Buckle said he had not seen anything like last night's blaze.
"It was a spectacular fire.
"I've been to a couple of boat fires, but nothing as large, or in the city centre with as much smoke and flames."
The firefighters' job was also made easier by the proximity of the site to York's central fire station.
"It meant response times were just a couple of minutes and we could quickly send for additional resources."
Acrid black smoke, caused by the burning diesel and the fibreglass boat, forced the police to close Ouse Bridge and evacuate nearby homes and restaurants to stop the public being engulfed in smoke clouds, he added.
Specialist fire investigators are now searching for the cause of the blaze, but the boat's half submerged position will slow down their efforts, Mr Buckle said.
Environment Agency workers are also on site trying to assess the damage the fire might have caused.
Area base controller Peter Stevenson said: "We are looking to see the impact the fire has had on the river, if any.
"There are two things that could cause concern: debris from the boat, primarily fuel, and the foam the fire service uses.
"It would appear the fuel has either burnt off, or is still contained in the boat. A small amount of diesel would be really visible, but we can't see anything on the river now.
"We could be talking about an element of luck here."
It is not known how long the boat will stay in its current position, but the Environment Agency will be speaking to the boat's owners about how they remove the burnt out remains, Mr Stevenson added.