Wreck set alight days after the State Government takes on ownership
WITNESSES saw people on board the Tateyama Maru before smoke billowed out of the wreck across the weekend.
The 55-metre Japanese research ship has been beached off Gloucester Island since April when it broke anchor in Cyclone Debbie.
The fire was smouldering as late as Monday inside the vessel after firefighters could not board the boat.
The fire was noticed about 4.10pm Saturday by a passing boatie, who contacted Volunteer Marine Rescue which then notified police.
Police are appealing for information as they investigate the fire.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services sent three firefighters to the scene with the help of Volunteer Marine Rescue.
Unable to reach the site due to tide restrictions, the crew returned to base that night only to be called out again at the request of police Sunday morning.
Two firefighters responded, taking a portable pump to fight the blaze from the outside.
Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan blamed the State Government for the blaze.
Mr Costigan said it had failed to act before environmental harm was caused.
“I’ve been leading the crusade to remove the rust bucket from the third biggest island in the region which has been home to much-loved national park for 80 years,” he said.
“If there’s any environmental damage to this amazing part of the Whitsundays, the (Queensland) government only has itself to blame.
“There are well-meaning people in Maritime Safety Queensland, the Whitsunday water police and national parks who are just as frustrated as me because their political masters wouldn’t do the right thing.
“Although the island is uninhabited, it is a popular camping spot for locals and tourists alike and our grand plan was to re-sink it as a diving attraction.
“Only in the last few days have we seen significant developments where tenders have been closing for the vessel’s removal but now there is smoke billowing out of this eyesore in paradise.”
The State Government formally took ownership of the vessel last month.
MSQ has stated it had removed pollutants from the ship.
The Tateyama Maru smouldering early in the morning the day after being set alight.