Fuel Dock ExplosionThe cause of an explosion onboard a boat that sent a 46-year old father and his 13-year-old son from Port McNeill to hospital is still unknown. Shortly after 3 p.m. on August 5, RCMP received a report of an explosion on a 50-foot pleasure craft at the Port McNeill Fuel Dock and Marina on Beach Drive.

“The boat had finished fueling up and they jumped on board to start the engines, but the engines wouldn’t start,” said Steve Jackman, Manager of the fuel dock.

“They thought it might have been a battery, but then very quickly the explosion happened.”

Parts of the boat flew into the dock itself and the Marina’s windows were blown out immediately.

“It just sounded like a bomb went off,” June Scown of Vancouver, who was reading a book on the deck of her boat at the nearby small-boat harbour , told the North Island Gazette newspaper. “Then there was a lot of smoke, and you could see the boat sinking fast.”

Jackman unroped the boat from the dock, allowing it to sink and extinguish the fire. The 46-year-old father quickly escaped from the boat, but for a brief moment the child’s whereabouts were unknown.

“The captain jumped back on the boat ran through to find his son, I jumped in the water too, preparing to go in the boat,” said Jackman. “But luckily his son appeared quickly within the wreckage himself, got off the boat, and I swam him to the dock.

“It was pretty scary for all of us. We were happy that the son came out on his own, and we didn’t have to go into the boat to retrieve him. It was a pretty harrowing situation.”

Both the father and son sustained burn injuries and were taken to the hospital. The boy’s injuries were described as minor, while the father’s appear to more significant but not life-threatening. The gas dock attendant who was working at the time also had minor injuries from flying glass shards.

“I don’t know how no one got seriously hurt, but I’m very fortunate that we all walked away fairly unscathed,” said Jackman.

RCMP report the explosion happened in the engine room of the boat; which then  triggered the engine compartment door and windows of the boat to blow out — along with the windows of the fuel dock station.
However, community members volunteered throughout Monday and Tuesday to repair the fuel dock station, while the Coast Guard helped cleaned up the fuel and debris from the wreckage. The RCMP continue to investigate the cause of the explosion.

“The recovery efforts over the last two days have been great,” said Jackman. “It’s quite nice when the town can come together and help like that.”

Story and photo courtesy Global News BC
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