Boat strikes power lines over Weweantic River

May 24, 2014

Two people escaped injury after the trimaran they piloted on the Weweantic River caught fire when the boat’s mast struck high-tension power lines.

“I can’t say how fortunate these people were,” said Wareham Harbormaster Garry Buckminster. “It’s short of a miracle that nothing happened to them.”

Buckminster said the accident was unusual as power lines are clearly marked on navigational charts.

“We’ve never had a boat strike those power lines before,” he said.

A harbormaster boat from Wareham and another from Marion were first on scene at approximately 3 p.m. on Friday.

Police and fire officials stood watch from the Route 6 bridge connecting the towns as fire and harbormaster crews extinguished the blaze. Later, a Marion fire department boat joined the effort. Additional boats from both harbormaster departments and the Coast Guard were also involved.

Buckminster said a private boater rescued those aboard the trimaran before officials arrived.

He said the boat likely struck power lines in Wareham waters. It then drifted to Marion shores where it became fully engulfed. The black smoke attracted curious bystanders.

Many reported that a brief power outage occurred when the trimaran struck power lines.

Patrons in Gilda’s Stone Rooster bar, which is located a short walk from the river, reported the lights flickered a number of times around 3 p.m.

Doug Monroe of Marion reported seeing the boat shortly after it caught fire.

“I saw a small fire on the boat about 20 minutes ago and now it’s engulfed in black smoke,” he said at the scene.

Buckminster said the trimaran had a small outboard motor and a gas can onboard. He said the “extremely flammable” fiberglass material the boat was made of caused the smoke and flames.

Buckminster credited the cooperation between the various agencies involved for getting the situation under control.

“We have such a good working relationship between the towns,” he said. “When you’re dealing with a maritime emergency you can’t drive a police car or a fire truck to the scene. Your workspace is limited and you end up making due with the resources you have.”

Around 4 p.m. the fire was out. Sea Tow, a towing service, then salvaged what was left of the boat.

The names of the two people aboard the boat have not been released.

This story will be updated when more information is available.