Tragedy on my Boatlift Last Saturday

BarryNichollsBarryNicholls Posts: 27 Greenhorn
Here is the entire story of what happened to my wonderful boat last Saturday. My magic fishing machine, the Bayou Belle, is no more. Out of tragedy will come a blessing although I don't know what yet.
Boat Fire
I awoke to a banging on the side door of my house. Surprising, as who knocks at 7:30 on a Saturday morning? And who doesn’t knock on the front door?
I got up and started to put on my shorts. The knocking came again, more urgent. I called out “I’m coming” while stifling my urge to get testy about it. Then I heard a shouted: “Barry! Hurry up!”
Uh oh! That doesn’t sound good. I hurried to the door, and as I opened it, I could see light in the semi gloom coming from the back of the house. There is only one thing that makes light of that color – FIRE! Could the neighbor’s house be on fire, across the canal? I rushed out and around to the back of the house.
There was the source of the eerie flickering light – my boat! Engulfed in flames! Oh no! What could I do to save it? I already knew the answer – nothing. Fiberglass loves to burn and it was already burning from stem to stern.

I ran inside and awoke my son, visiting for a week from Arizona. He heard the urgency in my voice and wasted no time in getting outside. I asked him to call 9-1-1 while I snapped a couple of pictures and grabbed the garden hose.
I was concerned that the half full gas tank would ignite and perhaps endanger the whole house.
Andy reported to me that 9-1-1 said not to try to fight the fire.
The wind was blowing from left to right, or from bow to stern of my 19’ Key West: the Bayou Belle, so I started hosing the flames nearest the bow in keeping with the axiom: always aim for the base of the flames.
Andy repeated that they said don’t try to fight the fire. I replied: “Yes, I heard you”, but continued to ignore the instructions, lol!
I’m sure the instructions were because of the danger of a gasoline explosion. I’ve played with explosives a lot in my previous ill spent youth, and I know that an explosion requires confinement. The plastic gas tank on a boat will melt and give way before the gasoline ignites. The result would be a whooshing of fire, not an actual explosion. I could rush away from that if it happened. Besides, the gasoline filling port had already burned and there had been no explosion. But meanwhile, the whole point of using the hose was to prevent the fire from reaching the gas tank.
I was making good progress putting the fire out. Keeping a wary eye out for in case the gasoline started whooshing up, I was working from up wind to downwind. The console didn’t want to go out though. It was shielding the fire within (right over the gas tank!) and it was also electrical at that point. Four batteries shorting out were keeping it lit in spite of the water I was shooting in.
Andy solved that by bringing the ABC fire extinguisher from the house. It was great for electrical fires and promptly stopped the console part of the fire, although it kept trying to restart.
Meanwhile I got the various flames to go away, including the ones trying to destroy the boat lift itself.
Just then the fire department showed up. In mere minutes of being called! They put the high pressure hose to work. It blew pieces right off of the boat, and the cover off of the outboard! The last bits of fire didn’t stand a chance.
They eventually used a chainsaw to cut out a piece of the port side gunwale to get at the melted and smoldering batteries. One firefighter boarded the charred shell, cut the cables and physically removed each of the four batteries. Now the fire was completely conquered and would not restart.
Then Andy and I took chairs outside the back door and relaxed while observing how the firemen finished up. Andy had hot soup (it was COLD out) and I had a big cup of hot coffee. I gave him a hard time about not remembering to bring marshmallows – heh!
You know how sometimes you ask yourself: “I wonder if I should get a new boat?” Well, question answered! Lol!
It’s all adventure. Somehow this will turn out to be a blessing. I don’t know how, but I know it will. It always has, and always will.
Meanwhile, who do you know that can say they put out a major fire before breakfast?!
Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. - BN
The most important requirement for a good is fishing trip is to come back! - BN
The worst things that happen to us give us the best stories - that's adventure! - BN


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