WESTPORT, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — An explosive rescue on the Long Island Sound has left a local man alive, but homeless.
As CBS 2’s Lou Young reports, the inferno could be seen for miles.
From shore it registered as a bright light on the water — a spot of flame devouring a luxury yacht visible from two states.
“We were receiving phone calls from Long Island, 911 phone calls,” said Westport, Conn. Police Capt. Sam Arciola.
Arciola said he was fishing Saturday evening when the big boat passed trailing smoke. Owner Robert Blount had just dropped off several guests and was headed back to Norwalk Cove Marina, where he keeps the yacht docked.
“The fire became very visible in the helm station up on top, at which time we took him on board our boat and backed off immediately,” Capt. Arciola said.
Blount was rescued in the nick of time, too. He was unharmed and was with his family Monday night, but didn’t want to talk. The craft pushed fire into the sky for around 90 minutes after the rescue before slipping below the surface.
Blount told police that the fire started in one of the boat’s engines and spread so quickly he didn’t have time to radio for help.
We’re talking about a really beautiful craft here, a 3-year-old Meridian valued at $800,000, 47 feet from bow to stern powered by twin diesels, 380 horsepower apiece. It wasn’t just a boat, it was his home. Blount lived on board and watched it go to the bottom on his 50th birthday.
Fellow boaters were feeling his pain on Monday.
“It’s more than just your home; it becomes an extension of you. So to see, I think for anyone who loves their boat, to see their boat burn up and sink, it would be about as traumatic an event as you could have happen,” boat owner Martin Van Breems told Young.
The boat now sits in 18 feet of water off Westport, on an oyster bed. Salvage operators are expected to raise it this week so insurance inspectors can get a close look.
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