Victoria man recalls his quick actions during harbour boat fire


The day after a huge boat fire in Victoria’s harbour, fire officials continue to look for the cause.And we’re now learning more about those who managed pushed the burning vessel out of the docking area at Victoria Marina Fuels. It was a split-second decision that likely prevented a much worse disaster. Andy Neal reports.

Six years on the job at Victoria Marina Fuels, and yet, the events on Wednesday provided something new for the fuel station’s manager.

“I hope it never happens again. Sure made the day go by quick,” Doug Foster said.

Shortly after an American couple had fuelled up their 32-foot bay liner at the station, a turn of the key to ignite the motor set off a chain of near disastrous events.

“There was a loud pop. Then the real dark brown, black smoke started coming out of the side of the boat underneath,” Foster said.

The couple’s dog inside the boat was rescued.

Foster and a deck helper moved quickly to push the boat from the station.

Foster says within three minutes of pushing off the dock, the boat was fully engulfed in flames.

“They were able to contain it to the vessel of origin, there was no fire spread to any other vessels or to the dock or to the fueling station itself,” Victoria Fire Deputy Chief Dan Atkinson said.

“So they did everything correctly.”

The Victoria Fire Department was on the scene within 10 minutes. Firefighters doused the boat and water pressure pushed the vessel across the harbour.

READ MORE: Boat sinks after catching fire in Victoria Harbour

It burned for at least half an hour, sending thick black smoke in the air.

Eventually the boat sank and was recovered, and booms that were in place last night, have been removed.

The boat has been towed to Sooke.

“With the extent of damage to the boat, and the fact that it was submerged, we don’t know the cause at this time definitively,” Atkinson said.

If not for Foster’s quick actions, and the boat’s full tank of gas, the scene could have been more devastating.

“The tanks were full of gas, which means there’s very little gas vapours in those tanks,” Foster said.

“If those tanks had been empty or a lot more, say half full, there would have been a lot more gas vapours in the tanks, that could have been more catastrophic as it could have exploded.Cause it’s the gas fumes that are the volatile thing. That could have been potentially a bomb.?

Drifting by the station on a friend?s boat to say a final farewell, the couple who lost their boat cut off their two-week vacation early.

Andy NealAndy Neal

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