Fishermen working to recover businesses after boat fires

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — As fire officials continue to investigate what caused three boats to catch fire in Narragansett last week, the fishermen involved are picking up the charred remains of their livelihood.

Ryan Labriole bought “Gator” to run his own fishing business to support his 6-year-old daughter Annika. Now, he and his business are docked after a fire Friday took it down along with two other fishing vessels – Blue Thunder, and across Point Judith Pond in the Port of Galilee, the Elizabeth Victoria.

“This is a huge setback,” said Labriole. “The boat can come in with anything from 200 pounds of fish to 3,000 pounds of fish.”

Eyewitness News was on scene Tuesday as Bob Cherenzia and crews worked to lift the sunken Elizabeth Victoria out of the water. Cherenzia, who also makes his living on his boat, said he won’t be able to save it, but he might be able to save some of the equipment.

“I hope they don’t tell me who it was, because I’ll get my own justice,” said Cherenzia.

Crews raise the Elizabeth Victoria out of the water (Steph Machado/WPRI-TV)
Crews raise the Elizabeth Victoria out of the water (Steph Machado/WPRI-TV)

State Fire Marshal Jack Chartier said he won’t rule the fires as suspicious until he knows what happened.

“The fire is still under investigation, so we won’t put it in any category,” he explained. “I will just say two fires within an hour of one another is unusual.”

Chartier said parts of the charred boats were sent to the state crime lab. Now that Cherenzia’s boat is out of the water, investigators will be able to inspect it for clues of the fire’s origin and cause.

Labriole said he plans to rebuild Gator, which will cost $20,000 to $30,000.

“People think I’m crazy, but if you set a good goal, you can achieve it,” he said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to collect donations for Labriole, who said the boat will be renamed after his daughter once it’s back up and running. There’s also one for the Elizabeth Victoria.

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