A man looking to buy a pleasure boat from a private party out Yaquina Bay Road suddenly saw the boat burst into flames right in front of him.
Fire officials say the boat’s broker was explaining the features of the vessel when the prospective buyer asked that it’s motor be started up. So they backed the boat on its trailer down into the water just enough to get the motor properly immersed. But when they fired it up there was a mini-explosion and the whole engine compartment ignited.
Fire officials say the broker quickly pulled the boat back out of the water and pulled it away from anything that might catch fire. One man pulled out a fire extinguisher and tried to douse the flames and suffered minor burns while trying. Others grabbed garden hoses. Long about then the Newport Fire department showed up and quickly knocked the fire down. But by then damage to the boat was nearly complete. Charred motor and engine area. Heat and smoke damage throughout the cabin areas. The boat was estimated to be a total loss.
Fire officials say that the funny thing about it was that the broker and some other folks had been out on the boat just a couple of days earlier and it ran like a top, even though it had been sitting for 7 years, unused.
Newport Fire Chief Rob Murphy says anything that uses gas for fuel that sits for extended time periods should be approached very cautiously. He says fuel can leak from various sources and cause a great deal of damage if ignited. He recommends anyone that encounters a piece of equipment that has been stored a long time to have a mechanic thoroughly check it out first before starting it.