November 26, 2014
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‘Overwhelming’ support as RI Yacht Club recovers from blaze
Daniel Kittredge
PROBE CONTINUES: One of the fire-ravaged boats. The investigation of the fire at the yacht club continues.

In the wake of a fire that destroyed multiple boats and damaged a portion of its dock, the Rhode Island Yacht Club has shown its resilience thanks to the support of the community.

“We’re business as usual,” said Robert O’Brien, the club’s commodore. “In a matter of weeks, we’ll be back at 100 percent.”

The fire – which began shortly before midnight on May 10 and drew a major response from emergency personnel – remains under investigation, with fire officials saying the insurance industry has taken the lead.

Six boats were destroyed, with three totally submerged and one left partially underwater. There were no major injuries, with once firefighter and a civilian transported from the scene of the blaze but later released.

“The Cranston Fire Department and Police Department did an amazing job,” O’Brien said. “It’s phenomenal what they did.”

On Saturday, the club was given a clean bill of health in terms of the fire’s environmental impact, with crews removing booms put in place to contain oil and fuel that spilled into the bay. O’Brien praised the Coast Guard and Clean Harbors for their efforts.

The commodore said the club plans to quickly put in place a temporary replacement for the damaged portion of the dock.

“We have a pretty aggressive plan as far as getting the dock back in shape,” he said.

O’Brien said the club has coalesced around those who lost their boats in the fire, particularly those who resided on their vessels.

“Everybody knows everybody else. They’ve been very supportive,” he said. “It’s obviously tragic for the people who lost their boats.”

He also spoke of the outpouring of support from the region’s boating community, as well as the local response.

“It has been overwhelming. My email’s been full every day with people offering to help,” he said. “Thank you to everyone in the community and in the boating community.”

The nearly 140-year-old club in December celebrated a major three-year restoration project, which included the reconstruction of the foyer, the addition of an elevator, other accessibility improvements, the creation of a new third floor that serves as office space, new walls and the replacement of leaky windows.

On June 7, O’Brien said, the club will hold its annual Commissioning Day, which serves as an official kick-off to the boating season.


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