The fire-fueled destruction of an abandoned boat near Transfer Beach in Ladysmith has highlighted the region's ongoing struggle with derelict vessels.
At approximately 11 p.m. on Monday night, crews with Ladysmith Fire Rescue were alerted to a boat on fire at Slack Point.
Local volunteers with the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue station 29 as well as the Canadian Coast Guard had attempted to keep the burning boat away from other vessels nearby.
When fire crews joined in the effort, the boat was "burning quite drastically," said fire chief Ray Delcourt.
The decision was made to let the boat drift out into the water, where it burned down and sank into the waters below.
Efforts were then made to clean up any debris left behind from the abandoned boat during an operation that lasted around two hours.
"The fact is, we don't know what these boats have in them," Delcourt said. "We don't know what kind of hazards are on these ships. Definitely a problem for us having these kind of vessels."
Ladysmith's fire department has grown concerned about the increasing frequency of boat fires in the town's harbour.
Boat traffic from Alberta and Vancouver causes the area to become more congested during the summer months.
"We get a few boat fires every year," said Delcourt.
Ladysmith municipal staff say the issue is one that has grown in severity up and down the coastline.
The town has raised the issue at forums including the Union of B.C. Municipalities and the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities.
UBCM described the issue as an ongoing concern for its membership in May.
"Abandoned vessels threaten BC oceans, coasts, lakes and rivers by obstructing navigational channels, creating a public safety hazard, causing harm to the environment, becoming unsightly and diminishing commercial and recreational activities," UBCM claimed on its website.
Nanaimo-Cowichan member of Parliament Jean Crowder raised abandoned vessels as an issue during her 2011 campaign.
"While major environmental dangers from derelict and abandoned vessels are dealt with swiftly by the Canadian Coast Guard, many are left simply to rot away and leach chemicals into the surrounding environment," she said to the House of Commons on June 16, 2011.
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