Call outs to the Dart RNLI lifeboat are never quite what you expect.
The RNLI Dart volunteers were called out at 10.30pm on Thursday 3 November to investigate reports of a red flare that had been seen in the Stoke Gabriel area of the River Dart.
When the crew arrived on scene 15 minutes later they were told that no boat had been seen to have sent up an emergency red flare, but there had been fireworks let off in the vicinity of the Stoke Gabriel Boathouse and a fire could be seen to be burning from across the river. The lifeboat crew went ashore at Stoke Point to confirm the sighting of fireworks but found no one there. The spent hot fireworks had however been gathered up and put in a plastic bag and this was now well alight and endangering the boathouse itself. Fortunately there was a water tap close by and the crew were able to douse the flames.
This was the second fire alarm call that the crew had attended in the last two days. The Dartmouth Fire Brigade volunteers and the RNLI lifeboat crew had been called out to the alarming report of a boat on fire close to the Higher Ferry in Dartmouth. Once they were afloat it was obvious that there was no sign of smoke and it took some time to establish that the alarm had been raised when the crew of a 36ft. classic yacht had lit their wood burner for the first time this winter and the soot in the chimney had produced a burst of dense smoke.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.