Teddington RNLI assist in rescue of eight people in River Thames boat fire
Teddington RNLI were tasked on Saturday (21 September) at 3:28pm, in the Twickenham area of the River Thames, to help in the rescue of eight people from a serious fire and explosion aboard a boat, close to Hammertons Ferry.
A fire then rapidly spread causing the people on board to jump into the Thames, where they were recovered mainly by the quick actions of Hammertons public ferry crew, who were close to the incident.
The casualties were then attended to by London Ambulance Service (LAS).
Teddington RNLI Lifeboat kept other river users away from the burning hull and used their wash to nudge the boat closer to London Fire Brigade (LFB) ashore, who managed to grapple it and extinguish what was left of the casualty vessel. Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Richmond were also on scene.
As Graham Jaggers, Deputy Launching Authority (DLA) at Teddington RNLI explained:
‘The London Coastguard brief to me was for Teddington RNLI to help deal with an explosion on a boat downstream of Eel Pie Island. Teddington RNLI Helm, Andy Bell together with crew Tim James and Andy Cowell were launched in D-785 Peter Saw (one of our two D-Class Inshore Lifeboats) and were on scene in only a few minutes. Other emergency services were already in attendance but they needed us to ensure that there was no one unaccounted for and to keep other river users away from the burning boat.’
Teddington RNLI Helm Andy Bell said:
‘Hammertons Ferry have been very modest in giving credit to emergency services, including us, when they actually rescued all eight people from the water! We should be quite rightly praising them and indeed we are!
Our role at Teddington RNLI was to warn others of the danger and then, when safe and appropriate, use our wash to direct the casualty to where LFB effectively extinguished the fire and made it safe. We left the scene when an LFB boat arrived and the fire was out.
London Coastguard tasked us initially only when he heard LFB were uncertain all persons on board were accounted for. The RNLI never risks our crews with fires on casualty boats but we are always happy to assist the LFB in whatever we can from a safe distance.’
Andy Cowell, third member of the Teddington RNLI crew on the lifeboat added:
‘Shortly after arriving on scene and liaising with LFB, I was dropped at Hammertons Ferry, where I was able to liaise with the police and ambulance crew and the skipper of the boat. The skipper confirmed all eight persons on board were safe and that apart from the fuel, which had already ignited, there were no other highly flammable/ explosive items on board (such as a gas canisters).
LAS said three people needed to go to hospital for minor cuts and burns. Great work by Hammertons Ferry crew and as Andy Bell has said we were more a supporting safety unit after the event. Our launch crew of Paul Roach (DLA) on the tractor with helm Jon Barker as launch banksman and helm Jon Chapman as banksman helped ensure a swift launch.
On return crew Callum Goddard and helm, James Kavanagh assisted with recovery. I’d also like to add that it shows the importance of wearing lifejackets on boats as you never know when an accident can happen and you have to jump in the water!’
A Hammertons Ferry spokesman said via their Twitter account: ‘Thanks to all the emergency services and Teddington RNLI everyone was safe and rescued from the water.’
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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.