It’s the beginning of the busy tourist season and one local tour operator in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye finds itself short of one boat from its fleet. It is a total loss for tour operator Ecologic Divers as one of its vessels was completely destroyed by fire. A quiet Sunday afternoon south of town was interrupted as the blazing boat sent residents rushing to the shoreline to make sure nobody was hurt and fire fighters looking for a way to extinguish the blaze just a few feet into the water.
Ambergris Today was first at the scene of the incident that occurred at about 5p.m. on Sunday, November 13, 2011, in front of the Victoria House Resort. Boat Captain Neftali Lemus of tour operator Ecologic Divers had just dropped off one of his tourist student divers at the pier off Victoria House when one of the vessel’s outboard engines caught on fire as he steered it off the pier.
According to Captain Lemus, the fire consumed the boat so quickly that they had no option but to abandon it and swim up back to the Victoria House pier which was about 400 feet away. With him were local dive student Danny Guerrero and another tourist student diver. All three managed to swim to safety with only a few personal items.
Thick black smoke and a few small explosions filled the sky as Lemus watched the burning 38 foot boat drift back towards shore, missing the pier by only a few feet. The boat, along with its two 200ph Suzuki outboard engines, empty diving air tanks and about 80 gallons of remaining fuel completely burnt about 100 feet from shore as it got stuck in shallow waters.
The fire fighters could only watch the boat get consumed by the flames as they waited for a portable pump to be brought to the scene, but the boat had already been destroyed by the flames by the time they had arrived. There was little anybody could do, considering the circumstances.
Lucky enough nobody was injured during the incident. The Belize Coast Guard, that was nearby, rendered their assistance to the San Pedro Fire Department and Police as they extinguished the fire shortly after sunset. Investigations are ongoing as to the cause of the fire.