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   Jul 05

Woolloomooloo boat owner ‘frustrated’ after $2 million marina fire

Firefighters at the Finger Wharf in Woolloomooloo at about 4am on Saturday as flames engulf two yachts. Photo: Julian Peterson
Nanjing Night Net

Boats worth $2 million destroyed in Woolloomooloo Finger Wharf fire

The owner of one of two boats worth $2 million destroyed by fire at Woolloomooloo Finger Wharf has spoken of learning about the loss of the vessel.

Charred remains of the two ruined yachts are still submerged in the waters off the exclusive wharf after a blaze took hold about 3.40am on Saturday. About 100 residents from the wharf’s apartments were evacuated as plumes of black smoke billowed into the building.

The Sun-Herald understands that one of the boats, a luxury cruiser, was owned by scrap metal dealer Morgan Parker. One resident said: “He came down later on to have a look, he has been there all day. Naturally he’s upset.”

Mr Parker, group general manager of metal recyclers Sell and Parker, when contacted by telephone said: “I don’t want to talk about it. It is extremely frustrating.”

Police said they arrested a 24-year-old man of no fixed abode in Woolloomooloo and that he had been released from Kings Cross police station but remained a person of interest.

Asked about concerns surrounding the 24-hour security at the wharf, whose residents include John Laws and Russell Crowe, Mr Morgan said: “That’s a good question.”

Mr Parker and his wife Bree-Annan were last year reported to have snapped up a Bellevue Hill mansion in an off-market deal worth more than $12 million.

Laws’ boat La Carolina, named after his wife Caroline, was adjacent to the burning boats but escaped unscathed.

“I can’t believe my boat was right beside the burning vessels but was saved,” Laws said.

Detective Acting Inspector Michael O’Keefe said the man was arrested in relation to an unrelated property offence and that CCTV footage was being reviewed but wasn’t being released. Forensic officers spent most of the morning collecting fingerprints at the stylish China Doll restaurant on the wharf.

The fire is thought to have started on one boat and spread to the other. It didn’t appear that the individual vessels were deliberately targeted, Acting Inspector O’Keefe said.

“At this stage the investigation into what caused the fire is ongoing, however there is evidence it was a deliberately lit fire,” he said.

“There was no break in or illegal activity at any of the restaurants.”

The second boat is believed to be owned by a Melbourne businessman.

Talking to the 24-hour security staff in the area was part of the ongoing investigation, the officer said.

A wharf resident said CCTV footage showed someone trying to get onto the boats shortly before the fire.

Resident Craig Gill said: “This place is CCTV’d and [police] have seen the CCTV, with somebody acting suspiciously around the time of 3.50am before the fire started, and on the marina as well. What’s that person doing on a marina berth at 3.50am?”

Another resident said it was necessary to use a swipe card to get past the security gate and onto the marina. “We know there are people who loiter there, we have had previous episodes.”

Divers are expected to start the salvage of the boats in the next couple of days.

Police said anyone who saw anything unusual between 3am and 4am should contact Crimestoppers.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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