A major cleanup operation is underway following a narrowboat fire on a canal in Preston.
A retired couple’s boat went up in flames at the weekend and was completely destroyed.
Keith and Jennifer Riley had moored their narrowboat at lock seven of the Ribble Link and minutes later fire crews were called to tackle the inferno.
The Ribble Link crossing is tidal so is not operational every day but passages booked for Sunday and Monday were affected.
The narrowboat was refloated yesterday, The Canal and River Trust said.
The couple, who have been boating for 18 years, lost everything including their mobile phones and bank cards and only had the clothes on their backs.
Keith, 68, from Nottingham, said: “The narrowboat was our home for the last 15 months.
“It started to overheat so we tied it up and when we next looked it was aflame.
“Sixteen firemen turned up and it took them two hours to put it out. It is a complete wreck.
“The fire service and the firefighters were all excellent and we got help from the Red Cross.
“My wife managed to retrieve a bit of paper work and two passports, the Marriot hotel was the only hotel in the region that would take two passports as security”
Keith said: “We have been boating for 18 years, we’ve only spent three years living in a house.”
It is thought the blaze was started when the exhaust overheated.
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “Environment Officers attended the scene on Monday – they didn’t find any dead fish, but they did find the oil slick from the burned out boat.
“The oil is confined to a lock, which the boat was pulled into by the fire service after the fire.
“Pads and Booms are being deployed by an external specialist contractor to soak up some of the oil and prevent it spreading while the boat is refloated and moved to be recovered.
“The same contractor also has a vacuum tanker on site, which will suck up some of the oil and what little remains of the boat owners’ personal belongings, which will be disposed of safely.
“Environment Officers are attending again today to see how the clean-up operation has gone and to offer assistance and advice.”
The Canal and River Trust said the vessel will be secure against the canal bank whilst discussions with the boat owners insurers take place to remove the boat as quickly as possible.