TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An early-morning fire at Hualien County’s Shih-ti Fishing Harbor destroyed two whale-watching vessels on Monday (Jan. 17), including the original boat that inspired Taiwan’s love for whale-watching.
CNA reported that during a patrol, a safety inspector from the Coast Guard Administration noticed fire and smoke coming from a boat and tried to put it out with a fire extinguisher. However, the fire was too large, and the inspector notified the local fire department.
The Hualien County Fire Department said it received a report of the fire at 3:39 a.m. and deployed three vehicles and five firefighters to put out the fire. By the time they arrived, the fire had spread to another boat, and both vessels were engulfed in flames.
The fire was extinguished by 4:55 a.m., and the cause of the fire remains to be determined, per CNA.
The two vessels destroyed in the incident were named “Sea Whale 1” and “The Sea Whale.” The Sea Whale, which was used originally for whale and dolphin conservation and research, was Taiwan’s first-ever whale-watching boat and pioneered the whale-watching industry in Taiwan.
Firefighter puts out flames that destroyed "The Sea Whale," Taiwan's first whale-watching boat. (Coast Guard Administration photo)