A BOAT which was moored at a Wigan lock was set alight resulting in its submersion.
Police are investigating the boat blaze which happened at around 1am on Friday morning at Dover Lock, Abram.
The GRP Canal Cruiser, which is made out of reinforced fibreglass, is said to have been left at that part of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal for around two weeks - the owner of the vessel has not been seen since.
It is unknown how the fire started, but it completely destroyed the boat, leaving gas bottles and debris spread across the canal and oil on the surface of the water.
Will Chapman had moored at Dover Lock overnight, fortunately he was awake and able to get of his barge in time.
The 72-year-old said: “I was still up reading in bed and then I heard some crackling and popping.
“I thought it might have been another barge but I looked out of the window and saw this big fire. So I got off my boat and called the fire brigade.
“I moved away from the fire further down the canal, it was a good job I was awake though as the boat had been drifting closer while it was on fire.”
According to Mr Chapman, voices could be heard at the time of the fire but he did not see anybody before the blaze.
He added: “I did hear some people nearby afterwards.
“I was told by the other boat owners that somebody bought this boat a couple of weeks ago but he hasn’t been seen since. And I would have expected the boat to have been moved by now because it will be dangerous for passing boats.”
Two pumps from Hindley and one from Leigh fire service arrived to extinguish the fire. There was nobody on board at the time and nobody on boats nearby was hurt.
A spokesman for British Waterways said: “We responded promptly to the incident and ensured the boat did not cause any blockage to the canal or danger to passing boats.
“While the number of incidents involving fire is few, they are clearly very dangerous and fortunately no one was injured in the incident.
“Clearly it is very difficult to police this kind of behaviour, so we appeal to people’s common sense to enjoy the waterways in a safe and responsible manner.
“We’ll be retrieving the boat as soon as we can.”
A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: “We received a call from the fire service at around 2am that a boat at Dover Lock had sunk.
“The issue has been referred to the neighbourhood officer and inquiries are under way.”