Boater dies in boat fire

Published: Saturday, 25 February 2023

A MAN died when his boat moored on the Staffs & Worcs caught fire.

Fire, police and ambulance crews were first on the scene early Friday morning, near Pendleford Lock on the Shrophire Union though wrongly reported as between Penkridge and Wolverhampton, but once the blaze was extinguished, a male body was discovered and a dead dog was found on the towpath.

River Canal Rescue

River Canal Rescue was then called out on Friday morning (24th February) to recover the burnt-out boat on the waterway and asked to put together an emergency team to recover the wreckage due to it being a crime scene and the need to preserve evidence. On arrival the team assessed the location and vessel situation, but due to the severity of the blaze, pumping out the vessel was not an option.

RCR chief executive officer Trevor Forman, chief rescue co-ordinator, Pete Barnett, senior engineer Kerry Horton and engineers Andy Spencer and Rob Turneri instead opted to attempt to use air bags, compressors and lines to try and right the vessel before trying to raise it. Anti-pollution booms were positioned nearby to contain any spills.

Halted the recovery

Police temporarily halted RCR’s recovery so forensic teams could investigate further and survey the scene for other potential bodies/victims. Once the search and aerial survey was completed, RCR continued the recovery late into Friday afternoon but reports that before it can fully re-float and lift out the vessel and its remains from the canal, the excessive weight has to be removed. Due to the ongoing investigation each item has to be removed and stored for forensic investigation, which will take time and patience.

RCR managing director, Stephanie Horton, comments:

“This is a very delicate job and we’re working to preserve as much of the boat and its contents as possible so the police and fire brigade can try and piece together what happened. After the careful removal of the excess weight, the lift-out will take place on Saturday 25th February. Our thoughts at this time are with the relatives of the deceased and anyone associated with the dog.”