Two candles that had been lighted but left unattended in the VIP suite caused a fire that burned and sank the 120-foot yacht Andiamo at its dock in Miami two years ago, according to a new National Safety Transportation Board report.
The NTSB also said that the crew’s failure to complete repairs to the yacht’s fire detection and alarm system contributed to the severity of the fire. The yacht, worth $6.3 million, was a loss, and the fire caused an additional $480,000 worth of damage to the marina and other boats.
The NTSB reported this series of events: On Dec. 18, 2019, the six crew members on Andiamo, docked at the Island Gardens Deep Harbour Marina, welcomed a guest of the owner on board. Two crew members told the NTSB that the lights in the salon and the accommodations deck were not working at the time.
When the guest arrived, a crew member lit three candles and put them on top of a wood-veneer dresser under a porthole, decorated with two curtains, in the VIP suite. The crew member extinguished one candle that was flickering, but left the other two burning. The crew member and the guest then left the suite.
A few minutes later, a crew member opened the door to the salon and saw a plume of black smoke rising four feet high. Two crew members yelled, “Fire.” The captain investigated, but did not activate a general alarm, the report said. Instead, he told a crewmember to have everyone leave the yacht and call for help.
The intensity of the fire caused the yacht to capsize on its starboard side before resting on the marina’s sea floor in 27 feet of water (see the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue picture above). The fire itself did not spread to the marina or other boats, although smoke and water caused more damage.
Andiamo, which is flagged in the Marshall Islands, was equipped with a fire detection and alarm system. But crew members told the NTSB that they did not hear or see any alarms.
The NTSB report says that earlier that year, on Oct. 2, the American Bureau of Shipping reported that Andiamo’s fire detection and alarm system was not working. The ABS later reported that despite the crew’s attempts at repair, the system still was not working at the time of the fire. The NTSB said the crew’s failure to complete the repairs contributed to the severity of the fire.
The NTSB report said that “Candle usage on a vessel, whether attended or not, poses a fire risk. The abundance of flammable materials on board can allow a fire to quickly spread out of control.” Read more: