A well known fishing family in Dartmouth have tonight lost their home and business after fire ripped through their boat, The African Queen, early this morning.
Alan and Hilary Hemsley lived on the boat from which they ran fishing trips for tourists. The former Navy vessel is steeped in history, having helped to repatriate bodies of those killed during World War Two. Seth Conway reports.
Team work and quick actions meant a boat fire on the river Dart did not become a much more serious incident.
Just after midnight on Monday night, Dart Harbour staff were alerted by Brixham Coastguard to a serious fire aboard the African Queen, belonging to Alan and Hilary Hemsley.
Luckily Hilary and Alan were not on board when the fire took hold and by the time Dart Harbour staff arrived on the scene the vessel was well and truly ablaze.
I wish to pay tribute to Brixham Coastguard, Torbay Lifeboat, the Lower Ferry service, and especially the skipper Mr William Davis, Devon and Somerset Fire Brigade and Adler and Allen, our oil pollution responders, for their swift response and their excellent team effort. Whilst the primary concern was for Hilary and Alan’s safety, all agencies have acted together to prevent the situation from being far worse, namely the vessel sinking off the pontoon resulting in a potential pollution incident. I wish to thank all those who were involved in the rescue effort last night.