Watch: Huge fire destroys two boatyards on River Thames

A ‘gigantic’ fire has completely destroyed two historic Grade-II listed boatyards on an island in the River Thames.

Around 100 firefighters tackled the blaze as it engulfed an industrial area on Platt’s Eyot island near Hampton yesterday (3May21).

Fifteen fire engines and around 100 firefighters were called to the fire at the two industrial units on Platt’s Eyot island in Richmond upon Thames.

The only access on to the island was via a footbridge, therefore firefighters carried all of their equipment to the scene by hand.

The blaze erupted at about 5pm, when the fire service received 72 calls reporting the plume of smoke.

The units, understood by the Daily Mail to be Grade-II listed, timber-framed boathouses built in 1916, were destroyed.

London Fire Brigade confirmed a number of gas cylinders were involved in the blaze, and were cooled and removed by firefighters ‘as some cylinders can explode.’

One of the the historic little ships that rescued WW2 soldiers during the evacuation of Dunkirk is said to be among those lost in the fire.

“This is an incalculable loss of of maritime and naval heritage,” says naval historian Dr Phil Weir according to the Standard. “The yard was where the RN’s Motor Torpedo Boats were first created in the First World War and I gather at least one of the Dunkirk Little Ships was under restoration there and has been lost.”

The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships says that the DLS Lady Gay had ‘been totally lost’ in the fire despite their owners attempt to rescue her. Although her name does not appear in any of the lists of Dunkirk ships there is, says Yahoo, no doubt that she was there.

“It was very upsetting but people were calm,” says Dominique Bouchard who witnessed the event. “I was still quite a distance. I ran into the vicar from St Mary’s church in Hampton who came out to see if anyone needed help.

“I heard a few people talking about how devastating this is for the businesses on the Eyott and of course losing unique historic architecture and structures is also very sad.

“I was very worried that people were injured but there didn’t appear to be any injuries.

“There were several small boats that were trying to get close. I saw one with a firefighter on it. Lots of people wanted to help but you don’t want to get in the way of the professionals.

“At one stage a gas canister must have exploded. When you see how many motorboats were tied up and on the island, you can see how dangerous it could be for anyone nearby. Each of those boats, I imagine, had diesel or some fuel that could ignite and cause an explosion.”

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