Lightning possibly to blame for expensive boat fire on Island Estates

Pinellas County

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – A Clearwater man’s dream of sailing off into retirement is now on hold, after a line of strong thunderstorms spawned a lightning bolt that may have set his boat on fire.

The fire badly damaged the “Moon Song” sailboat,  as it sat, tied up behind the owner’s apartment.

Neighbors heard the crack of thunder and smelled smoke right away.

Just after 5 p.m. Wednesday evening, Clearwater Fire and Rescue arrived at the slips behind the Dolphin Point Apartments on Island Estates, to find smoke and flames shooting from the bow and forward cabin.

The flash and loud boom happened simultaneously. “We thought it all hit the pool.  We weren’t sure what happened.  We all came outside little bit later to see what happened. Yeah, we all heard it. Shook the apartment” said Seth Gattuso.

“You heard the thunder and you could smell like a charred smell in the air,” said James Bracken.

Fire crews used a foam mixture to put the fire out. And they moved a large yacht tied up next-door to prevent it from going up in flames.

Neighbors said the owner was too upset to talk but said he’s recently lost his leg, and had a string of bad luck…and now this. “He’s pretty upset about the whole situation.  He’s been through a lot this year” said James Bracken.

Preliminary estimates put this loss at, at least $40,000. “It looks like it’s salvageable.  But the inside is pretty bad shape.  It looks like it’s burned from the inside out.  I don’t know how that happened but it took em a while to get it out. They actually had to spray foam and whole thing filled up to about the window” said Braken.

The charred “Moon song” may someday, sail again, but it will need extensive repairs.

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