Whale-Watching Boat Catches Fire In Monterey Bay

A whale-watching boat with 41 people aboard caught fire while touring Monterey Bay, but no one was injured, officials said.

The 55-foot Pt. Sur Clipper, owned by Monterey Bay Boat Charters, had been cruising through the bay for hours Tuesday afternoon without a whale sighting when passengers smelled smoke, passengers said.

The fire started in the exhaust pipes and spread to the 40-year-old boat's roof. White plumes of smoke climbed into the air and turned black. The flames surrounded the wooden enclosure where the captain's controls and life jackets are held.

"It was really frightening," said Diane Clements of Phoenix, who was vacationing in Monterey.

The four crew members used fire extinguishers and passengers doused flames with buckets of sea water, but the boat was still on fire when it made an emergency stop at a dock in Moss Landing, North County Fire Division Chief Doug McCoun said.

Passengers had evacuated and the blaze was mostly out by the time Monterey County fire trucks arrived to put out the remaining flames.

"I haven't had this happen before," said Nancy Black, co-owner and captain of the boat.

Coast guard investigators were seeking the cause of the blaze.


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