VBFD, Coast Guard help rescue 3 people after yacht catches fire off Cape Henry coast

Mar 08, 2024

Editor’s note: VBFD initially described the vessel as a sailboat. The Coast Guard has since clarified that the fire happened on a yacht.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Three adults were rescued after the 75-foot yacht they were on caught fire off the coast of Cape Henry, according to the Virginia Beach Fire Department (VBFD).

personal locator beacon

In the mayday call made by the boaters, they say the boat is on fire and give then provide their GPS coordinates.

“The mariners found themselves in a very serious situation,” said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Wyatt Nelson.

The Coast Guard says this case is a great example of mariners being prepared.

personal locator beacon

“They were able to provide the position that they were in. Then, they took the proper action of putting on PPE. They had PFDs on, they had a personal locator beacon,” Nelson explained.

personal locator beacon

VBFD assisted with the rescue after the U.S. Coast Guard asked them for help. The Coast Guard says the sailboat was about three miles northeast of Cape Henry when they were notified.

“It was also a testament to the strength of our core partnerships here in Virginia. We had multiple assets rapidly on scene,” Nelson said.

The three people on the boat had jumped into the water, officials say. Their action allowed them to be rescued from the water in less than 10 minutes Nelson said.

They were picked up by a pilot boat and taken to the Pilot House – a building by the Lesner Bridge where the VA Pilots Association is located, the Coast Guard shared.

They were examined by EMS personnel and no injuries have been reported, officials added.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, “Fires that occur on boats or in marinas can spread quickly and present unique response challenges due to hazardous conditions and limited access.”

The association offers several tips for boaters:

  • Make sure the boat has smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Have a fire emergency plan and practice it.
  • Inspect electrical cords, wiring, connections, and battery charging devices to make sure they’re working properly.
  • Also, check heating and AC systems.
  • Have the proper fire extinguisher and make sure everyone on board knows how to use it.

Around 8:10 a.m., the Coast Guard told News 3 the yacht was on the rocks off of Fort Story and the fire was still smoldering.It was unclear Friday what caused the fire.

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