34m Sunseeker burns as it is readied for launch

Mon May 9 2011, 11:20 AM

The £9m yacht burns at Poole Quay in Dorset

A 34m Sunseeker, with an estimated value of £9m, was totally destroyed by fire at Poole Quay, Dorset on the weekend. The blaze, which reached 70ft at one point, happened just after 10pm on Friday.

A total of 50 firefighters with six appliances attended the incident, which is thought to have been caused by severe lightning in the area at the time. Lifeboats moved other yachts away from the burning vessel to prevent the fire from spreading.

"I've never seen anything like it. It started off as just a few flames but in minutes the whole boat was alight,” said Peter James, an eyewitness. "At one point the flames were about 20 metres high.”

Mike Cox, Dorset fire and rescue service's station manager, said that an investigation is under way. "It's not thought to be arson as there were 24-hour security guards at the boatyard and they hadn't seen anyone,” he said.

Stewart McIntyre, managing director of Sunseeker International, told the Daily Telegraph that insurers had been notified of the incident and a surveyor has been appointed.

Although there is some minor damage to equipment in the surrounding area, Sunseeker's production facilities were not affected by the fire and it remains "business as usual" at the UK yard.