On December 18, 2019, about 1921 local time, a fire broke out aboard the privately owned yacht Andiamo while moored at the Island Gardens Deep Harbour Marina on Watson Island in Miami, Florida. The crew of four and a guest on board safely evacuated the vessel as the fire quickly spread. While local firefighters and crews from neighboring yachts attempted to extinguish the fire, the yacht capsized onto its starboard side. No injuries were reported, but an oil sheen was observed. Total damage was estimated at $6.78 million: the Andiamo, valued at $6.3 million, was declared a constructive total loss; repair costs for the marina and adjacent vessels were $480,000.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the fire aboard the private yacht Andiamo was burning candles left unattended that resulted in an undetected fire in a guest cabin. Contributing to the severity of the fire was the crew’s failure to complete timely repairs to a fire-detection and alarm system known to be inoperable for two months.
Avoiding Candle Use on Vessels
According to the National Fire Protection Association, burning candles results in hundreds of millions of dollars in damages ashore in the United States, including injury and loss of life. Candle usage on a vessel, whether attended or not, also poses a fire risk. Given the dynamic environment of a vessel, candles can move, and their open flames can ignite combustible materials. The abundance of flammable materials on board can allow a fire to quickly spread out of control. Flashlights and battery-powered lighting are safer alternatives to use during a loss of electrical power.