Dramatic footage shows huge fire that sunk fishing boat - leaving two men clinging to life raft

By Group Reporter
Wednesday, 17 July, 2019, 09:12

This dramatic footage shows a huge fire that sunk a fishing boat off the British coast - leaving two men clinging on to survival in a life raft.

Theresa Appleton, 57, was on a wildlife spotting tour with her husband, Mike, 59, when they spotted smoke on the horizon.

Duncan Jones, skipper of the boat, headed straight for the source of the acrid black smoke and discovered two men in a life-raft in the waters off Penzance, Cornwall on on Tuesday (July 16).

The men were fishermen and their boat had been set on fire, and as they were towed away a loud explosion could be heard as an on-board canister ignited.

Ms Appleton, a photographer, said: "We left from Penzance and did a trip right down to the Minack Theatre and we headed south west.

"We were then opposite Penzance and we could see all this acrid black smoke in the distance and the skipper headed straight for it.

"We were the first on scene and the fishermen were in a life raft. The skipper threw them a rope and took them away from the fire."

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After pulling the two men clear of danger, Mr Jones then radioed in to the Coastguard for help.

Two lifeboats, one from Penleee and one from Sennen, were dispatched alongside a rescue helicopter, but not before the fire completely took hold and destroyed the fishing vessel.

Ms Appleton continued: "There was a canister on the boat and there was an explosion, the whole boat from stern to bow was alight with flames."

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She said that she enjoyed seeing dolphins on the trip, but her husband preferred watching the rescue.

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A spokesperson for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency confirmed that the emergency responders were dispatched after multiple 999 calls were made.

They said: "Two men have been safely rescued after their fishing vessel caught fire off the coast of Land’s End this afternoon.

“Falmouth Coastguard received multiple 999 calls around 3.25pm reporting a vessel on fire.

"RNLI Penlee and Sennan Cove all weather lifeboats and HM Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Newquay were sent to the scene.

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“The two people on board had abandoned their vessel to a life raft.

"They were safely taken aboard the Penlee lifeboat and reported to be uninjured and not suffering from smoke inhalation and have been taken back to shore in Newlyn.

“The fishing vessel is reported to be ablaze and HM Coastguard have made a mayday broadcast to warn any vessels in the area to avoid area and give a clearance of 0.5 nautical miles of the vessel.

“HM Coastguard is continuing to monitor the condition and position of the vessel.”