Stranded men set Chimon Island fire
Two shipwrecked men were stranded Thursday afternoon on a Norwalk island and lit a huge bonfire with driftwood to attract help.
Marine Police Sgt. Peter LaPak and Officer Gregg Scully were on their way late Thursday afternoon in two boats to the Norwalk International In-Water Boat Show at Cove Marina when they saw the fire on Chimon Island, dropped off one of their boats and rescued the stranded men.
"You could see a huge orange globe. It looked like the sun setting," Scully said Friday. "It was a huge bonfire and there were two guys standing next to it and waving at us. If we hadn't gone by, they would have been out there all night, because we were the only boats out there. Cold night like that, they would have been hurting."
Scully said the incident should serve as a reminder to boaters to carry cell phones and/or radios, flares and life vests, just in case.
"Be prepared for everything," he said.
The men were out in a 19-feet-long Four Winns motorboat when they hit rocks on the back side of the island, ripped off the bottom of their outdrive and crashed onto the island, Scully said.
He added that they had nothing with which to communicate and lit the signal fire near the water line and away from any trees.
LaPak called the Norwalk Fire Department at 8:53 p.m. to report the fire, which had "become larger than expected, can be seen from the harbor," and firefighters responded in their new boat, said fire department Deputy Chief David Lepus.
That night marked the third time the fire boat had been used on a call, Lepus said.
The fire was "no big deal" to extinguish, he said, adding that firefighters arrived on the island at 9:06 p.m. and returned at 10:33 p.m.
After rescuing the men, marine police returned to Chimon to pick up the damaged boat, which was beached on the island, Scully said.
Noelle Frampton covers police and courts. She may be reached at (203) 354-1006 or firstname.lastname@example.org.