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Fuel spills into Southold's Gull Pond after fire sinks boat and spreads to second vessel, officials say

The Catherine Ann, right, lies a gutted hulk

The Catherine Ann, right, lies a gutted hulk in the waters of Gull Pond in Southold after a fire Saturday night, Aug. 8, 2015, gutted the Silverton model. The blaze spread to the 22-foot Pro-Line, at left, and heavily damaged it. Credit: Andrew Monaco

A stubborn Saturday night fire sank part of a boat docked on Gull Pond in Southold and spread to another vessel tied nearby, causing diesel fuel to spill into the waterway, authorities said.

Greenport and Shelter Island firefighters and Southold and Suffolk County police responded to the report of the fire about 9 p.m., officials said. They found the Catherine Ann, a 42-foot Silverton pleasure boat with diesel engines, owned by Robert Ainbinder, 61, of Northport, fully ablaze, officials said.

The intense heat had ignited a second vessel -- a 22-foot Pro-Line motor boat owned by Andrew Monaco, 62, of Kings Park -- before the first fire units arrived, police said.

The blaze was put out about 2:30 a.m. but restarted an hour later and was knocked down again. There were no injuries, officials said, and the fire's cause hasn't been determined.

"Both boats were destroyed," Monaco said in a telephone interview Sunday. "Within a matter of minutes the boat [the Silverton] was blazing then it spread to my boat within about 15 minutes."

The aft end of Catherine Ann sank and was resting last night at the bottom of the pond, about seven feet down, Monaco said.

The boat would remain there until insurance representatives look at it Monday.

Coast Guard officers responded along with a spill team from Calverton-based Miller Environmental Group Inc. Monaco said between 50 and 75 gallons of oil spilled.

"They used booms to contain the oil and keep it from moving any further out," Monaco said. A man who answered the phone at the Miller offices said he could not comment.

Monica said he and his wife, Ann, were having dinner with Ainbinder and his wife, Catherine; and a couple who have a home nearby and own the dock, Paul and Patricia Ahlers.

Monaco, a home builder who said Ainbinder is a retired furrier, said, "We're all experienced boaters" and that the six were having dinner at the Ahler's home when the incident occurred. He said the Ahlers allow him to keep his boat at their dock and that he had taken the Pro-Line out with his family earlier in the day to Shelter Island to do some fishing.

He said the Ainbinders were at the end of a two-and-a-half week boating vacation. "They had been to Block Island, Cape Cod and Montauk," Monaco said," then they came to Greenport to end their vacation and they were going to leave to go home either tomorrow [Monday] or Tuesday."

Monaco said he and his wife had just left the Ahler's house to go home to a house the Monacos have that is about a five-minute drive away in East Marion, and that the Ainbinders were on their way to their state room to go to bed when the fire broke out.

"They opened up the door to the cabin and smelled smoke," Monaco said of the Ainbinders. He said the couple ran up to the Ahler's house and that Paul Ahler ran to the boats with a fire extinguisher but it could do nothing to help. "By the time he got there they were engulfed," Monaco said. He said Paul Ahler called him on his cellphone to tell him what happened and he returned to see the boat he had had for 15 years ablaze. He said the Ainbinders, who were not available for comment, had the Catherine Ann about 17 years.

Monaco said he believes the fire started in the bow of the boat and that it was electrical.

"They're material things," Monaco said of the boats. "We're just glad everyone is safe."

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