Holyhead Lifeboat Crew in Devastating Fire Drama

Lifeboats News Release

A huge fire in the Holyhead Marina area on Thursday night meant the crew had to leap into action in a different way.

RNLI/Vicki Owens

The inshore lifeboat 'Mary and Archie Hooper' safely away from the inferno at Holyhead

The fire broke out just after 9pm, and initial alerts suggested the lifeboat station itself was on fire. However, it was quickly realised it was the building adjacent to the station, Trinity Marine, which is immediately next to the building housing the town’s inshore lifeboat Mary and Archie Hooper.

In perhaps a fortunate coincidence, some members of the crew including the coxswain and mechanic were in the nearby sailing club, after having their annual general meeting earlier that evening, and so they were on scene immediately.

A quick decision was made to enter the lifeboat ‘shed’ and try and bring the ILB to safety, along with the RNLI tractor and Land Rover. Despite the increasing inferno, the crew faced black smoke and quickly managed to get all three vehicles safely to a grassy area nearby, as firefighters arrived and stated to tackle the blaze.

Within minutes, the flames were over 30ft high, and a crowd were gathering to witness the fire for themselves.

The volunteer crew had also rescued some of their lifesaving attire, but the famous yellows were still in the lifeboat shed, which was dangerously close to the flames, less than 10 feet away from the burning building. A series of explosions were heard emanating from the building, and it was feared items such as emergency flares, and the adjoining fuel tank, were at risk. However, the fire was controlled well enough at an early stage for none of these to be affected.

A strong wind that night meant the thick black smoke was engulfing the lifeboat house and surrounding area,and was seen for miles across Anglesey.

Lifeboat volunteers could then only watch the North Wales Fire Service try and get to grips with the fire

Offers were made by Holyhead’s cliff rescue team, police and the sea cadets, to temporarily house the lifeboat, but as plans were being made the fire came under control and the fire service gave permission for the boat to be returned to her usual home at the lifeboat station.

The lifeboat had to be taken off service for a short period of time while the situation was resolved, but after approximately an hour and a half, and even while the fire was still being put out, it was announced that the crew were back on full alert for any 999 calls.

The fire was under control by approximately 11.30pm, but the lifeboat crew continued to make the station fully operational until the early hours, and fire crews remained at the location.

The following morning, the crew arrived early to assess the damage. Miraculously, the inshore lifeboat house was relatively untouched, apart from broken windows, and some heat damage to the fenders with were being stored there after Storm Emma in March.

The lifeboat station house itself suffered some smoke and heat damage; in particular windows, which were thought to be the original windows of the Grade II listed building, were shattered, and blinds were damaged, looking as though they had been dangerously close to setting alight. Other items inside the building suffered smoke damage. Externally, part of the station’s guttering melted and collapsed, and parts of the outer building are tarnished and in places, and cracked with the heat.

A full assessment will be made by the RNLI and other authorities, in order to see how the station will be affected long-term.

The devastation outside the building cannot be underestimated, and the crew worked hard on Friday to clear up as much as they could, and make the station as back to normal as possible.

Coxswain Tony Price praised the efforts of everyone who ensured the station was ‘business as usual’ as quickly as possible:

‘I am pleased to report that we are fully operational and the crew has performed outstandingly in order to ensure that service here carried on with minimal disruption in the circumstances. The fire service and police were fantastic in understanding our needs and allowing us to continue being on call as soon as it was safe to do so, and we thank them for prioritising our lifeboat station in this awful situation. We have also had such great support from the local community, and we feel very privileged to have that ’

He added

‘It’s so tragic to see such an iconic Holyhead building destroyed in that way. Our thoughts are with all those affected by this devastating fire.’

Holyhead Lifeboat press officer Vicki Owens said:

‘Not for the first time this year, the crew have had to pull together in a terrible situation, and like with Storm Emma, they have done just that with their usual dedication, camaraderie and good humour, and the fact that the lifeboat service was barely interrupted is testament to them all.’

For more information please contact:

Vicki Owens, Holyhead Lifeboat Press Officer on 07531 681409 or on vickilou11@gmail.com

RNLI/Vicki Owens

The fire takes hold at Holyhead Marina

Richard Burnell

The singed RNLI flag at Holyhead Lifeboat Station

RNLI/Vicki Owens

The burnt out Trinity Marine building, with the inshore lifeboat house behind,

RNLI/Vicki Owens

A crewman lowers the burnt RNLI flag

RNLI/Vicki Owens

RNLI volunteers clear up the damage left by the inferno

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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, in a normal year, 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.

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