State Fire Marshal investigating boat fire at Tarpon Point Marina
The State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating a vessel fire that occurred Saturday in Cape Coral.
At 1:15 p.m., the Cape Coral Fire Department responded to a report of a boat fire at the fuel docks at the Tarpon Point Marina, at 6095 Silver King Blvd. According to a report from fire investigators, the operator of the vessel had refueled it and attempted to start the engines when an explosion took place.
Seasonal Cape resident Ronald Plotka was sitting down to lunch at The Westin when it happened.
“I’m looking straight out and I hear this boom,” he said. “It sounded like a bomb went off.”
Debris flew straight up into the air, and the involved boat was quickly encompassed by smoke.
“Then the flames started kicking up,” Plotka said.
He estimated that the vessel burned for 10 or 15 minutes before another boat took action.
According to investigators, the second vessel towed the boat away from the docks and out into the marina. The aim was to move the fiery mass away from the fuel docks and other nearby boats.
“The fire department came, and they started trying to douse the boat with water,” he said.
“Eventually, it just sunk,” Plotka said. “The boat just sunk.”
The involved vessel was a 32-foot Fountain. A tow boat was called to tow it to shallow water.
Andrea Schuch, spokeswoman for the CCFD, reported that the six people on board at the time were able to evacuate. Three were transported to the hospital with what appeared to be minor injuries.
The conditions of the three taken to the hospital were unknown as of Tuesday.
“We heard it was a family on the boat,” Plotka said.
A nearby vessel was also damaged by the initial explosion; its windshield was shattered.
Plotka estimated that the entire incident lasted 30 to 45 minutes.
“People were stunned,” he said. “No one could believe they were seeing what they were seeing.”
When the explosion occurred, many people headed for the fuel docks.
“I was thinking that we were being attacked by a bomber or something,” Plotka said of his initial reaction. “A lot of people ran over to that area and tried to help – to make sure everyone was safe.”
Sea Tow and the U.S. Coast Guard will remove the boat and take it to a secure location.
As of Tuesday, the cause of the vessel fire still had not been determined.
The CCPD and the State Fire Marshal’s Office are investigating the incident further.