Boat fire leaves owner with severe burns in New Port Richey

Pasco County

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) – Gone in an instant. A New Port Richey man’s pride and joy is a charred mess, and he is recovering from burns after his boat went up in flames.

Neighbor, Earl Eckles snapped pictures of Pasco County Fire Rescue crews working to put out the fire behind a home on Marlin Drive.

Courtesy: Earl Eckles

The 20-foot boat, on a lift, suspended above a canal, ignited as the owner worked on it.

“When I pulled into my driveway, I seen the black smoke billowing out from the back, right away, I pulled out my phone and started calling 9-1-1,” said Eckles.

Arriving firefighters found the boat engulfed in flames using foam to get a handle of the fire.

“The homeowner was out there in the back with a garden hose. He was trying to knock it down.  But, me standing just on the corner over here, I could feel the heat from the flames and everything,” said Eckles.

An ambulance took the boat owner to a hospital with second-degree burns on 15% of his body.

His boat has burn marks near the steering wheel with more damage near the stern.

A Pasco County Fire Rescue spokesman said it’s not known what the owner was doing when the fire broke out but a neighbor explained, he appeared to be working on the trim adjustments.

“It was hot. It was hot.  And there’s a lot of fuel onboard, I mean, if I’m not mistaken, I heard him say somewhere in the area of 200 gallons of fuel was on board” said Eckles.

Eckles worried the boat could flare up, so he kept his distance. He knows it is dear to his neighbor’s heart.

“He loves that boat.  That’s for sure. We’ve been here for almost two years and I see him out there all the time” said Eckles.

Pasco County Fire Rescue is investigating to determine a cause of the fire.

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