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9/11, Miracle on the Hudson fire boat finds home in Baileys Harbor

Kevin C. Kane fireboat in Baileys Harbor, May 12, 2017 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

BAILEYS HARBOR, Wis. (WLUK) -- A retired fire department boat from New York City has found a home in Baileys Harbor in Door County.

The vessel, called the Kevin C. Kane, has a rich history as well, serving on 9/11 and what's commonly known as the "Miracle on the Hudson."

From the silver search lights to the fire engine red hull, the Kevin C. Kane is a piece of New York history.

"It was their go-to boat. Fire Department number six. The water division," said Mike Cole, who owns Iron Works Construction.

The 52-foot fire boat was commissioned in 1993. The boat was named after a firefighter killed in the line of duty.

"And they used it for everything that they did, which was a lot of stuff in New York City," said Cole.

A lot of stuff indeed. The Kane was on duty on Sept. 11, 2001, serving as an evacuation vessel after the attack on the World Trade Center's twin towers. And in January of 2009, the fire boat was one of many which responded after U.S. Airways Flight 1549 ditched into the Hudson River.

"It was one of the main vessels that was used to assist. I don't know how many passengers it got, but the fire department used it as their main vessel," said Cole.

Navigational charts from the Hudson River, and more, are still stowed in the ceiling of the pilothouse.

"Yeah, this is some of them," said Cole.

And within easy sight of the ship's captain, something more.

"There's a little piece of paper, under a piece of Plexiglas. It was the fire chief and the mayor's phone number," said Cole.

Affter serving in Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Kane was retired, and sold at auction. A year and a half later, Cole bought the boat and brought it to Baileys Harbor.

And after all that service, some might think the Kevin C. Kane was ready for retirement. But Cole says, that's not why he bought the vessel. He says there's still plenty of life left in the old fire boat.

"I just saw that it was a 52-foot boat with 1,600 horsepower. So that's what I saw," said Cole.

Cole says the Kane will complement his construction business, which often works along the shoreline.

"It's going to be a crew boat and a safety boat. Just be on site, when we're working. When it's not doing that, it will be pushing a barge, or just hauling material," he said.

Workers say transforming the Kane into a work boat is well worth the effort.

"As soon as we get it in the water, she's going to have some amazing capabilities, and she's large and in charge. With the other barges that are out there, I don't think it's going to have anything stopping her," said Jarrod Cowdery, chief engineer.

"I definitely like boats. I love being on the water. And what more could you ask for. Getting to work in a part of history like that," said Cole.

Cole says it could take years to complete the project. He says the boat will still be called the Kevin C. Kane, but may be sporting a silver look instead of red.

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