An 85ft superyacht worth £6million carrying 2,000 gallons of fuel sunk tonight after it went up in flames at a harbour in Devon.
Firefighters raced to Torquay harbourside after the luxury boat, which is called the Rendezvous, caught fire shortly before midday today. The flames and smoke caused by the blaze left some people trapped at the far end of the pier, according to one witness, with police confirming the boat drifted from its mooring.
The South West Environment Agency has set its focus on a pollution response with fears of an oil slick after approximately nine tonnes of diesel poured into the Atlantic Ocean.
On Twitter, the agency wrote: 'Our officers have been checking air quality around Torquay harbour this afternoon following the yacht fire, which was declared a major incident. Thought to be no real issues with air quality, but we're keeping an eye on the situation.
'With yacht now sunk, and with approx 9 tonnes of diesel on board, focus now on pollution. Pollution response led by harbour master. Our officers are helping with advice and guidance on bathing water quality etc.'
Oil spills can be detrimental to the ecological health of oceans, coastlines, rivers, seabeds and habitats of sealife.
Police say no one is reported to have been injured in the fire, which forced the closure of the harbour and waterfront while crews desperately tried to put out the flames.
People living nearby are being warned to keep their doors and windows closed to protect themselves from the hazardous fumes.
One witness told Devon Live they saw explosions shortly after the fire began while the boat was alongside the pontoon. They said: 'Ropes burnt through and it drifted into pier. Firemen took trolleys and pumps along pontoons but water not reaching. 'Some people are trapped on the other end of the pier and can’t get back. Firemen are running along the pier. Still huge flames.'
Another described the blaze 'like a fire ball'.
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said the yacht contains approximately 2,000 gallons of fuel and that crews are battling the flames.
A spokesperson said: 'Crews again confirm one 85-foot yacht well alight alongside Princess Pier which is also involved in fire, all persons are accounted for and the immediate surrounding area has been evacuated.