A commercial fishing vessel in Lower Township is in ruins following a midnight fire that the Coast Guard says nearly became an environmental disaster as well.

The fire aboard the My Girl was reported at 11:57 PM Wednesday, says Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Donnie Bruszka. Firefighters of the Guard's Cape May training center arrived to see about 20 feet of deck enveloped in flames.

Bruszka says that they got support from the nearby Erma Fire Department, pouring a combined 1,250 gallons of water and extinguishing the blaze in about five minutes. However, the situation was far from resolved.

The vessel began listing heavily, turning into a potential salvage operation and possibly a pollution hazard. A small boat crew from the Cape May station activated pumps to bail water out of the boat and keep it from disappearing under the surface next to the pier.

New Jersey State Marine Police are probing the circumstances around the blaze. Volunteer firefighters from Rio Grande, Villas, Town Bank assisted along with the Cape May department.