JOEL M. LEO / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-BULLETIN
This image from video-camera footage shows a boat on fire in Hawaii Kai yesterday afternoon. The boat was docked in Hawaii Kai Marina, just steps away from townhouses.
Fire wrecks boat, injures owner
Shrubs also catch fire but do not threaten homes, firefighters say
Fire destroyed a boat docked in Hawaii Kai Marina steps away from townhouses, seriously injuring its owner.
The owner, a 45-year-old Hawaii Kai man, was reportedly working on the 20- to 22-foot-long pleasure craft when the fire broke out shortly before 2:33 p.m. behind townhouses on Kawaihae Street and Keokea Place in the Colony Marina.
The man was taken to Straub Hospital in serious but stable condition with first- and second-degree burns on his face and upper part of his body but remained conscious, an Emergency Medical Services spokesman said.
"The guy was working on (his boat), and it kind of blew up in his face or right near him," said Matt Limtiaco, who assisted him and called the ambulance.
"He looked like he had pretty bad burns," Limtiaco said. He said the man's eyebrows and hair were singed, his arms and legs were badly burned, and noted what smelled like burning flesh.
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
The bow of a fiberglass hull on the 20- to 22-foot-long pleasure craft was all that was left after the fire was extinguished.
Nearby resident Joel Leo heard what he "first thought was thunder."
He ran outside and saw a puff of smoke inside the boat, then heard a second explosion.
Leo grabbed his video camera and recorded the beginning of the fire. But as the flames grew, he ran inside and brought his wife and young son to the rear of their home, fearing not just fire, but smoke and chemical fumes.
Although firefighters arrived seven minutes after the call, Capt. Dudley Dias of the Hawaii Kai Fire Station deemed it too dangerous to board the boat with heavy equipment. He was concerned that fuel, either diesel or gasoline, remained on board. The vessel continued burning until it sank.
Dias said the flames had a greenish tinge to them, and once the fiberglass hull caught fire, it was difficult to put out.
Firefighters contained the fire to the boat, shooting a fog stream on it, then spraying carbon dioxide and a dry chemical spray, which proved unsuccessful, Dias said.
Shrubbery near the homes also had caught on fire, Dias said, but homes were not threatened.
Most of the vessel ended up underwater, with just a sliver of its right side poking above the surface. Charred bits of the boat floated in the oily-looking water.
The Coast Guard arrived later to assess pollution from petroleum-based products, and marina employees placed a boom around the boat to contain the oil and debris.