Law and Enforcement

EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT: POKER PLAYERS FOLD AS BOATS BURN AROUND THEM

From the poker boat, the blaze at first seemed a safe distance away – but players soon changed their minds as they “felt the heat in the air”

A late-night poker game ended with a Marine Police rescue as a dramatic blaze swept through 30 boats in Aberdeen South Typhoon Shelter on Saturday night

Mr Lee (an alias), 34, says he and a group of friends were playing poker at around 2:45am when they noticed “red” lights outside the window. One of the party called emergency services to report the fire and woke up all those aboard the 45ft junk, including three small children, preparing for an escape.

“The fire was about 10-15 boats away from us,” says Lee, “but it was not along the same row so we thought the risk of being affected was lower. We were worried but we tried to stay calm,” he says.

At the time, only around 2 boats were on fire, according to police.

The players prepare with life jackets and water spray, before deciding to leave the vessel

The poker game was wrapped up, and the partygoers kept an eye on the situation, readying life jackets in case.

According to Lee, the Marine Police sailed by at around 4am to ask if the party would like help evacuating.

“We decided to stay put and observe a bit more because the fire seemed to be under control,” says Lee. “We hesitated because we had three kids with us that night – we wanted to avoid the hassle of escaping unless it was really necessary.”

However, the fire quickly spread, eventually engulfing around 30 boats. And 45 minutes later, the players changed their tune. “We realised the fire seemed to have spread to more than one boat and we started to feel the heat in the air. That was when we decided to call the police again for rescue,” says Lee.

Police picked them up shortly afterwards, taking them to the marine base near the Aberdeen Boat Club pier. Nobody from the poker boat required medical attention and the partygoers left for home.

Police say the fire had been upgraded to a “No. 3 alarm” at 4.44am and took around four hours from then to extinguish.

One 12-year-old French boy, from another boat, had been sent to Ruttonjee Hospital for treatment, although with no serious injuries.

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