A A massive fire destroyed two shipyards and Grade II listed ships on an island in the Thames southwest of London.
One of the historic “small ships” that saved WWII soldiers during the Dunkirk evacuation is said to be among those lost in the blaze.
The blaze broke out at Platt’s Eyot in Hampton just after 5 p.m. Monday, with witnesses saying they heard “explosions” coming from the area.
Boaters were trying to approach the industrial fire to help firefighters approach the island from the water.
A man was caught on camera climbing onto burning boats in a desperate attempt to save small vessels being restored on the Burning Island.
Naval historian Dr Phil Weir told The Standard: “This is an untold loss of maritime and naval heritage. The yard was where the RN motor torpedo boats were first created during WWI and I suspect at least one of Dunkirk’s small ships was being restored there and was lost.
The Small Vessels Association of Dunkirk claimed that the DLS Lady Gay had “been totally lost” in the fire despite her owners’ attempts to save her.
They claimed that although her name does not appear on any of Dunkirk’s ship lists, there is no doubt that she was there.
Witness Dominique Bouchard told Standard: “It was very upsetting but people were calm. I was still quite far away. I ran into the vicar of St Mary’s Church in Hampton who came to see if anyone needed help.
“I’ve heard a few people say how devastating this is for Eyott businesses and of course losing unique historic architecture and structures is very sad as well.
“I was very worried that people were injured but there did not appear to be any injuries.”
The head of English heritage added: “There were several small boats trying to get close. I saw one with a firefighter on it. Lots of people wanted to help but you don’t want to hinder the professionals.
“At one point, a gas canister must have exploded. When you see how many motorboats have been docked and on the island, you can see how dangerous it could be for anyone nearby. Each of these boats, I imagine, contained diesel or fuel that could ignite and cause an explosion.
Crews are currently battling the flames, with London firefighters confirming “some cylinders” were involved in the blaze.
A spokesperson for the London Fire Department said: ‘Firefighters attacked a blaze in two one-story industrial units on the island, which were completely destroyed by the blaze. The only access to the island was via a footbridge, so the firefighters transported all their equipment to the scene by hand.
“A number of gas cylinders were involved in the fire, they were cooled and removed by firefighters as some cylinders can explode when exposed to heat.
“Some of the nearby boats have been moved from the area as a precaution.
“A man was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation by teams from the London Ambulance Service.”
A spokesperson for the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service advised residents and businesses nearby to close their windows and doors due to the smoke.
They added, “Our Joint Fire Control received 20 calls at Hampton Boat Sheds this evening. We are currently assisting the London Fire Department with this incident. “