Canadian Coast Guard Ship Cape St James

Boat catches fire close to Refuge Cove

At 9:08 AM on the morning of February 9th, 2022, a Squirrel Cove resident phoned the Coast Guard about a fire just north of Refuge Cove, on West Redonda Island. What she thought might be a house engulfed by fire turned out to be a 34 foot wood and fiberglass boat close to the shore.

Closeup of Squirrel Cove dock – Photo by Roy L Hales

Hiromi Ikegami is an oyster farmer, who was often seen paddling his green canoe in Squirrel Cove .   

Coast Guard Communications Advisor Michelle Imbeau said he escaped from the fire in a canoe.

She added that the ‘Cape St James,’ one of two Coast Guard lifeboats stationed in Campbell River, was tasked to attend. It escorted Ikegami to the Squirrel Cove dock by 11 AM. 

Cortes Island emergency personal were quick to respond. Fire Chief Mac Diver was waiting on the dock. Overnight accommodation on Cortes was found for Ikegami.

While he waiting in the Squirrel Cove General Store , Ikegami said the fire had started in his stove and he was unable to suppress it.

Imbeau added, “The Campbell River Lifeboat crew are now monitoring the fire from a safe distance. They will remain on scene until the situation is under control and the fire is out. The Canadian Coast Guard does not fight vessel fires. Once the fire is out, the vessel will be assessed for next steps, up to and including salvage.”

People who know Ikegami said he lived on board his boat and has lost almost all of his possessions.

Anyone who wishes to help out will find a donation jar in the Squirrel Cove General Store.

On Saturday, February 12th, Curt Cunningham told Cortes Currents that Ikegami has now relocated to Campbell River.

This story was originally published on Feb 10, after contacting Ikegami through a third party, additional data added on Feb 12.

Top image credit: CCGS Cape St James – Photo courtesy Canadian Coast Guard

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