Burra creel boat sinks after catching fire and drifting from mooring

A fishing boat caught fire and drifted from its mooring before sinking on Wednesday morning.

The 26.5ft creel vessel Accord was berthed at the north voe harbour in East Burra when the incident happened at around 8am.

Appliances from Lerwick and Scalloway were called to the scene, however the vessel was already well alight by the time they arrived.

The boat broke free from where she was berthed and drifted across the voe before coming to rest against some old disused salmon cages.

The fire was tackled using a hose reel jet and a light portable pump from the sea, however the boat sank soon after the blaze was put out.

Owner Jim Christie said he had been out in Accord, which was not insured, only the night before and had smelled burning.

He had put it down to heat in the vessel’s exhaust system cooling down after the journey. Mr Christie said he thought the heat could have caused a small fire which spread and set off the flares.

“I was out with her just last night, and I smelled something like burning but I suspected it was heat from the exhaust,” he said.

“I shut the boat down and left it for the evening. I think it must have spread around to the lockers where the flares are kept.”

Mr Christie knew nothing of what was unfolding until early on Wednesday morning when an eagle-eyed bus driver spotted flares firing off from the boat.

“By the time I got there it was one ball of fire. The fire engine was on its way. There was nothing I could do because she drifted about a bit before she sank. There had to be something smouldering.”

The Accord was built in 1973, but Mr Christie had fitted a new engine and shafts in 2006. He admitted he had let the insurance lapse – insurance not being legally required for fishing vessels of its type – because he did not use the boat often.

That means a replacement will cost around £20,000 for a good second hand boat, while a new one will cost up to £70,000.

“There was a lot of work that has gone into it, but the insurance lapsed because she wasn’t being used too much.”

The boat was operated by Mr Christie and his sons Ross – skipper and shareholder of the Quiet Waters – and Alwyn, who is in the Merchant Navy.


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