updated 8/20/2006 10:13:41 PM ET 2006-08-21T02:13:41

A shrimp boat that was carried inland by Hurricane Katrina’s surge and became a symbol of the storm’s power has been heavily damaged by a suspicious fire.

Firefighters were called late Friday and needed 12 hours to extinguish the flames that fed on fiberglass, hydraulic fluid and an unknown amount of fuel remaining in the boat’s 800-gallon tank, firefighters said.

The 65-foot trawler served as a backdrop for national and local television broadcasts and had gained a place on the list of landmarks for officials and tourists coming to see Katrina’s destruction, Deputy Chief Glenn Ellis said.

Tourists were on the scene taking pictures of the boat Saturday morning while firefighters were putting out the blaze, he said.

Ellis said the storm was believed to have carried the boat, which bore the names Dolphin and Father’s Day, into Chalmette from somewhere on the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, a channel from New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico. The storm surge apparently carried it through the marshland of Bayou Bienvenue and across a levee, covering a distance of 2½ to 3 miles.

Firefighters had to use a backhoe Saturday morning to break open parts of the boat so they could get at areas of fire below deck, Ellis said.

Part of the boat’s stern burned completely and the vessel was a total loss, Ellis said.

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