What started as a morning of boat maintenance turned fiery fast.
“All of a sudden, just saw a big black plume of smoke coming from what appeared to be the boats,” witness Scott Aughenbaugh said.
When Aughenbaugh raced down the marina, he was blown away by what he was witnessing.
“Saw the one boat drifting away from the docks over towards Costco with a fireball coming off of it and a big black plume of smoke rising up into the air,” Aughenbaugh said.
The vessel belonged to Sea Breeze Watersports in Hawaii Kai. The 35-foot powerboat was used for parasailing adventures off Maunalua Bay.
“It was really smart that they pushed the boat away from the docks, that way it didn’t light any of the other boats on fire, didn’t catch the shopping center on fire,” Aughenbaugh said.
Aughenbaugh credits one employee in particular for his quick action.
“One of their employees was on a jet ski and he was doing loop-de-loops, creating waves that basically pushed the boat back within range of the fire hoses that were spraying the foam on it. Otherwise, it would have drifted across the marina and right up to the front of a bunch of homes across the marina,” Aughenbaugh said. “He was also using the spray of the jet ski actually to help assist in putting out the fire.”
Honolulu Fire Department Capt. Terry Seelig says one of the challenges when fighting a maritime fire is gaining access.
“Company representatives that were working on it did a really good job of getting that vessel away from where it was tied up, where it could have done much more damage to actual pier and the structure on board the pier,” Capt. Seelig said. “The vessel came to rest her on the embankment of the marina where it has sunk.”
Capt. Seelig says the estimated value of the boat is between $50,000 and $60,000.
“It appears that this is related to fuel vapor in the air, getting a spark from electrical, and causing ignition,” Capt. Seelig said.
The U.S. Coast Guard and marina officials will work with the company to ensure fuel containment and eventual removal. Sea Breeze Watersports employees declined to comment. No one was injured.
“Boating safety is important. Things can happen quick and it did that time for them,” Aughenbaugh said.