Boat goes up in flames off North Side

Thick black smoke rose from the wreckage of a burning boat, discovered off North Side, early Thursday morning. 

A police helicopter crew searched the area, but it is not thought that anyone was on board the vessel, described by onlookers as 28-foot Boston Whaler, when it went up in flames. 

It is understood that the boat was stolen. Police are investigating how the fire started. 

Eventually, onlookers swam out and doused the flames and helped pull the shell of the vessel into shallower waters, before it was towed away. 

The alarm was first raised by Cayman Kai resident Chosun Mastriani, who called 911 around 6:20 a.m. to report a boat on fire close to the former Driftwood Village. 

As it drifted toward shore, four men swam out to the still burning vessel and attempted to extinguish the flames. 

Ron Gauntlett, one of the men, said he and his friends had stepped up to do what they had to do. 

“The community saw the smoke and came together” he said. Police said there were no distress calls to 911 or the Port Authority in relation to the incident. 

Chief Inspector Brad Ebanks said searches had taken place for anyone in the water, but no one was found. 

Mr. Ebanks said, “An extensive search by sea and air of the area where the boat was discovered for persons in the water proved negative.” He said neither 911 nor the Port Authority received a distress call from the vessel. 

The fire department are assisting with the investigation. 

He said West Bay CID were investigating the theft of a boat, fitting the same description as the burnt-out vessel, reported Thursday morning. 

Anyone with information can call 949-3990/649-3990 or Crime Stoppers at 800-TIPS. 

Residents pull the still burning boat to shore in North Side Thursday morning. – PHOTO: CAROL WINKER

Residents pull the still burning boat to shore in North Side Thursday morning. – PHOTO: CAROL WINKER

The police helicopter hovers above the boat as it searches the water for anyone who might have been on board. No one was found. - PHOTO: CAROL WINKER

The police helicopter hovers above the boat as it searches the water for anyone who might have been on board. No one was found. – PHOTO: CAROL WINKER

Residents pull the ashore.

Residents pull the ashore. – PHOTO: CAROL WINKER

Police released this image of the burning boat.

Police released this image of the burning boat.

The remains of the burned-out boat.

The remains of the burned-out boat.
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