Boater badly burned in explosion

By Jill Taylor, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 31, 2004

PORT SALERNO -- A boater was burned in an explosion aboard a 25-foot Chris-Craft at Sailfish Marina in Manatee Pocket Friday afternoon.

The boater, whose name was not available late Friday, jumped off the boat to avoid the flash fire and rescuers were concerned about the possibility of infection from the water, which contains chemicals and other pollutants.

The boater was taken by helicopter to Delray Medical Center and was expected to be transferred to the burn center at Jackson Memorial in Miami when the weather cleared, officials said.

The man had pulled up to a fuel dock about 30 minutes before they heard the explosion, witnesses said.

"We heard the boom and saw the smoke," said marina general manager Arnold Kloock. "Everybody ran to help. We put the fire out with our equipment."

Others shut off the fuel supply to the pumps and there was no damage to any other boats or the docks.

The man was conscious and talking but told rescuers he wanted to stay in the water to cool his burns until paramedics arrived. Officials said he had second-degree burns over about 40 percent of his body, but his condition was not believed to be life threatening.

A second man reportedly had been on the boat and went ashore to walk his dog when the explosion happened. Witnesses said he told them they had docked to check on a possible fuel leak.

Damage to the 1970s-era boat was extensive.

Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the state fire marshal's office are investigating.