A fire heavily damaged a yacht Friday just south of Grasshopper Island as a steady stream of boaters tried to move their vessels inland before Tropical Storm Nate reaches hurricane strength.
No one was injured and the cause of the fire was not immediately clear.
Grasshopper Island, on Biloxi’s Back Bay, is near the mouth of the Tchoutacabouffa and Biloxi rivers.
Someone called 911 about 3:20 p.m. and reported a 45-foot pleasure boat was on fire, Biloxi Fire Battalion Chief Andy Mason said. Firefighters launched Marine 1, one of their larger fire boats, and made their way to the scene.
“We don’t know how many were on the boat,” Mason said.
“We just know the people on board are safe and no one was injured.”
The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources is investigating the cause of the fire.
“We assume the boat was moving north to get out of the way of the storm,” Mason said.
Those on board likely got off and made their way to the island.
Earlier Friday, Biloxi Fire Chief Joe Boney said waterway traffic was heavy as boats were being moved from harbors and other docks.
Biloxi is among several Mississippi Coast cities who have ordered their harbors evacuated Friday as Tropical Storm Nate heads toward the Gulf Coast. The storm is expected to reach hurricane strength and make landfall early Sunday morning along the central Gulf Coast.
The yacht fire shows why the fire department has not evacuated its fire boats yet, Boney said.
“We need to be able to help as long as we can when something like this happens,” he said.