A Washington state couple saved themselves as they leaped from their boat after it became engulfed in flames Wednesday, dangerously close to a boat fuelling station at Fisherman’s Wharf.
Quick-thinking bystanders then prevented what could have been even more of a disaster as they pushed the boat away from the dock to avert an explosion.
Robert and Kelly Frasure of Tacoma had just finished fuelling their 32-foot Bayliner at Victoria Marine Fuels about noon when they heard a loud boom.
Kelly jumped off the boat while Robert rescued their dog Bella, which he says was frozen in fear.
Robert’s friend Steve Carey grabbed a fire extinguisher and opened the hatch for the engine. Smoke billowed out and the fire grew.
“Flames were shooting up in the air,” Robert said.
He flipped the dinghy into the water and jumped in.
Doug Foster, manager of the feulling station, helped push the boat away from the dock.
“We were worried about an explosion,” Foster said.
“We didn’t want it anywhere near the gas dock.”
As a Victoria Fire Department boat doused the boat with water, the pressure pushed the boat across the harbour.
It ended up on the Songhees waterway near the new Victoria International Marina.
The blaze sent black smoke billowing across the harbour.
The blaze was extinguished within half an hour and the boat sank.
Cold Water Divers recovered the vessel, using inflatable airbags, and C-Tow Victoria towed the boat to the James Bay boat ramp.
Robert and Kelly Frasure were at the start of a 17-day boating holiday with friends from the Carling Yacht Club aboard 10 other boats. After the fire, they took refuge on Carey’s boat and Robert joked that he was in need of a stiff drink.
The couple said they have good memories of life on the boat, travelling through the San Juan Islands.
“It’s sad, you’re losing a major part of your life,” said Robert.
The couple lost personal possessions but have insurance.
Victoria Fire Department is investigating the cause of the blaze that’s initially believed to be an electrical malfunction.