A boat on Lake Pend Oreille burst into flames at a Bayview marina this afternoon, burning a man and boy on board.
The victims jumped into the lake at MacDonald’s Hudson Bay Resort and were rescued by bystanders on the dock, while others pushed the burning boat away from the marina in Scenic Bay, Timberlake Fire Protection District Chief Kevin Kleinworth said.
Richard Wagner, 70, of Idaho Falls, and his 8-year-old grandson both suffered severe burns, investigators said. The boy was taken to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane.
The boat – a 1966 Tollycraft cabin cruiser – had just backed out of a boat house around 2 p.m. when the fire broke out, Kleinworth said.
“They were about 20 feet from the boat house when apparently there was some sort of initial explosion, according to the bystanders,” he said.
An initial investigation showed the fire probably was due to fuel vapors that had built up in the engine’s bilge and had not been properly evacuated prior to starting the vessel, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office said.
A Timberlake fire boat crew extinguished the boat, which then partially sank in the bay. The Northern Lakes Fire District also responded to the scene.
“The guys down there at MacDonald’s marina did a great job saving their marina before a lot more damage could occur by pushing that boat out into the water,” Kleinworth said. “That saved us a huge, huge potentially seriously fire.”
One marina employee suffered minor burns to his arms while pushing the boat away with a pole, he said.
The sheriff’s Recreation Safety Section is investigating the fire. Lake City Marine will retrieve the boat from the water.