HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Despite the massive fire that destroyed more than a dozen boats at the Richmond Yacht Basin Friday, organizers announced the annual Parade of Lights will still go on as planned.
In a statement, the James River Advisory Council says "JRAC members and the boating community still want to be supportive and participate in this annual holiday event, despite the catastrophe that occurred."
There may be fewer boats than originally registered for the event, but they are hoping to still spread holiday cheer amidst the devastation of the fire.
At least one boat was able to get out of the Richmond Yacht Basin in order to still take part in the festivities, but after a month of preparation, Jim Flemming is unsure if his 70-foot boat named The Office, will be setting sail.
"We canceled it cause the EPA has now quarantined our boat and is collecting all the remnants of the damage," said Flemming.
The boat was supposed to be the lead of the parade, with 6,000 lights all around, a Christmas Tree on the top deck, even an inflatable Santa Claus, the boat decorations were still in progress Flemming, was at the store getting supplies when his phone rang.
"I was in Goochland, got the call from a friend asking If I was ok," explained Flemming, who was wondering what happened. He raced back to his boat after his friend told him it was on fire.
He had to walk nearly a mile to get to the docks to see the flames and first responders working to put the fire out. More than a dozen boats in all were destroyed. Flemming feels fortunate his was not and also that lives were not lost in the chaos.
"I just was hoping people that stay on their boat out here full time made it out ok. That was the main concern because you can replace boats with insurance, [but] you can't replace not [sic] people," said Flemming.
Crews are expected to continue to clean up into Saturday afternoon, and Flemming will be waiting to see if his boat will make it out onto the water if the containment area has been moved.
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