It started with a puff of smoke, seeping slowly into the clear and sunny St. Thomas air on a mid-March afternoon. “I went into a meeting, and when I came out, it was very on fire,” recalled Ryan Nichols, who witnessed Positive Energy, a reportedly $2.5 million yacht, go up in flames.

The now-ironically named yacht was hauled off to sea to avoid damaging other vessels, which was the case when two multimillion-dollar yachts caught fire in the Abu Dhabi Marina Yacht Club in early March, taking six boats with them. Two months earlier, a fire damaged two superyachts at a marina in Marmaris, Turkey, and another superyacht, the 95-foot Queen Anna, burned in Fethiye, Turkey.

“Almost always, when a boat catches fire and it's in a marina, and there are numerous boats downwind from it, the fire spreads pretty rapidly,” explained Al Golden, president of the Grasonville, Md.-based International Marine Insurance Services, which insures around 14,000 boats. Cynthia Sailor from the Florida Yacht Brokers Association put it more bluntly: “One cow kicking over a candle, and the whole city goes up.”

The string of yacht fires raises the question: Is there something about these multimillion-dollar investments that makes them susceptible to fire?