May 26--Five people escaped injury when the boat their caught fire and exploded shortly after being launched onto Douglas Lake on Sunday, according to authorities.
The occupants included three teenagers, all of whom were wearing life jackets, said Matthew Cameron, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency spokesman.
The incident was reported about 3:30 p.m. just off shore from the public boat ramp near Douglas Dam in Sevier County.
The occupants smelled gasoline just before a fire began at the stern, which then exploded.
"The adults picked (up the teens), put them in the water and went in after them," Cameron said.
Another boat picked up the five people, who later were evaluated by emergency personnel at the scene.
Emergency responders could not reach the 18-foot boat, and let it continue to burn instead, Cameron said. The vessel sank within an hour.
The cause of the fire appeared to be a fuel leak, he said.
Cameron emphasized the importance of wearing life jackets while on the water. He also advised operating a boat's ventilation system before starting the engine.
More details as they develop online and in Monday's News Sentinel.
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