Lobster fishermen whose vessels were docked at a seafood company in the Florida Keys are recovering from a massive predawn fire that destroyed 20,000 traps and eight vessels early Monday morning.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is working with the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association to replace 12,000 bought-and-paid-for tags that were also lost after fire struck the Carlos Seafood Co. in Marathon.
“The biggest thing everybody needs right now is prayers,” said Elizabeth Priato, a lobster fisherman whose father-in-law was among those whose boats were lost.
The cause is under investigation, and no injuries were reported.
“Someone in Miami got a call from Coast Guard that his EPIRB was going off, and he sent a friend to go check on his boat,” Priato said.
Bill Kelly of the Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association said forklifts belonging to individual fishermen were also lost in the blaze. No concerted effort has been organized for aid because, Prieto said, at this point the number of traps lost by each individual fisherman has not been determined.
The fire started around 2:30 a.m. and raged until about 5:30 a.m. at mile marker 47.5, spreading through the entire marina near the north side of the Seven Mile Bridge. Crews responded to calls of a boat fire, but found a home and a lot full of wooden lobster traps on fire when they arrived.
“Your life is over, you look and see you are losing everything you ever worked for in your life,” said fisherman Ednan Prieto. “We lost everything.”