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Press Release | July 18, 2023

Coast Guard rescues 1 from water after boat catches fire in Delaware Bay, locals extinguish flames

Coast Guard, partners respond to boat fire in Delaware Bay

PHILADELPHIA – The Coast Guard rescued a man from the water Tuesday after his boat caught fire in the Delaware Bay. 

A Cumberland County, New Jersey, dispatcher called Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay watchstanders at 11 a.m. Tuesday and relayed that a 42-foot sport fisher, the Done Deal, was on fire near Delaware Bay’s main shipping channel.

Simultaneously, the Coast Guard command center received an alert that an emergency position indicating radio beacon, registered to the Done Deal, was activated near the same location. 

The dispatcher also reported that a nearby good Samaritan who reported the distress was providing detailed updates on the situation. The good Samaritan said the boat was fully engulfed in flames and the sole occupant was on the bow. 

An underway Coast Guard 29-foot Response Boat—Small crew, based out of Station Fortesque, New Jersey, immediately diverted to assist. 

The Coast Guard crew quickly arrived on-scene, located and recovered the man from the water. 

Response boat crews from the Downe Township Fire and Rescue, in New Jersey, and Little Creek Fire Company, in Delaware, arrived on-scene and fought the fire until it was extinguished.

The Coast Guard rescue crew took the survivor to Higbee’s Marina in Fortescue, New Jersey, where his care was transferred to awaiting emergency medical services personnel. No medical concerns were reported beyond possible smoke inhalation.

“It is important to highlight the teamwork involved in ensuring the safe recovery of the boater and extinguishing the fire,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Higgins, the search and rescue mission coordinator at Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay. “The efficient and fast communications from everyone involved, especially from the good Samaritan, were critical in saving this man’s life today.” 

Coast Guard marine environmental responders from Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay are monitoring for environmental concerns.

The boat’s owner is arranging commercial salvage. The incident is under investigation.