(MOBILE, Ala.) - Five shrimpers are counting their blessings after flames tore through their shrimp boat Wednesday morning.
"I never in my worst thoughts thought it would ever catch fire," Captain Joe Salva told Local 15.
It was Captain Joe Salva's dream come true: his own shrimp boat. Captain Salva bought the used boat in February, and re-named it "Miss Angela" after his daughter. It was a joint family venture. But then on the first day of brown shrimping season, his dream took a nightmarish turn.
"There was smoke coming out from the vent, the engine room," Captain Salva said.
When Captain Salva looked below deck, he saw flames. Also on board, Salva's son, two brothers and his brother-in-law. They battled the blaze with four fire extinguishers and buckets of water, to no avail.
"It's a wood boat, a cypress boat," Captain Salva said. "Once it started burning, it was burning pretty good."
His son was able to call the Coast Guard by cell phone, who responded quickly in a rescue boat. But there was a problem.
"No fire equipment on the [Coast Guard] boat whatsoever," Captain Salva said.
According to Captain Salva, the Coast Guard boat's pump did not work and all they could offer was a small fire extinguisher. With Miss Angela listing badly and without hope of extinguishing the flames, Captain Salva said the Coast Guard told him to abandon ship.
"They was ready to let it go," Captain Salva said.
Without a minute to lose, a fellow shrimp boat arrived: the Captain Sid.
"He heard we had a fire on the radio and came as fast as he could," Captain Salva said.
Using the Captain Sid's working pump, the crews were able to stabilize the burning ship and douse the flames successfully.
The Captain Sid helped tow Salva's boat to shore.
"He gave up most of his day of shrimping to help us out," an emotional Captain Salva said. "I really owe him a tremendous thanks."
Unfortunately, Salva said he does not have insurance to pay for the thousands of dollars in repairs.
"We can't afford the insurance on these shrimp boats," Captain Salva said. "We don't make enough money, after the maintenance, gas, marina fees."
Miss Angela's shrimping season may be done for, but Captain Salva said his family will pull together to get it back out on the water.
"Little by little, we'll put the boat back together," Captain Salva said. "I might be out, but I'm not down."
Captain Salva said they still don't know the exact cause of the fire, but he suspect a leaky fuel line or a filter caught fire. The boat had not showed any signs of trouble when they had taken it out before the start of the brown shrimping season.