Boat ‘in perfect condition’ catches fire, runs aground in Kaneohe Bay

One person was injured while he was trying to help a man whose boat was on fire. The boat ran aground in Kaneohe Bay just before noon Saturday and was fully extinguished by 2 p.m.

The owner of the 27-foot boat tells us that he had spent seven months restoring the vessel and it was in perfect condition. Bruce Campbell Huddleston, the 64-year-old owner, said he showed it to another person earlier in the day and was going to sell, but then changed his mind.

“It’s a Maxum SY 3500, 750 horsepower,” he said. “These things are really a lot of fun because it’s like a house that flies.”

But then, “you hear this pop, and when you hear this pop, man, it’s not good news. It smoldered for a long time.”

Huddleston was the only person on board when the fire started and the boat ran aground on the reef two miles offshore from the Heeia Kea Pier.

Huddleston got help from several people who were nearby who offered fire extinguishers. One of those people who reached out to help, Brian Blake, told us it was just too late to save the boat.

“We saw the boat was on fire at the sandbar, so we were the first boat to try to get out there to bring him a fire extinguisher,” Blake said. “I tried to jump on the transom of his boat, and in the process, I fell and injured my elbow and thumb, but was able to get him the fire extinguisher. More boats came up and we were able to get him about five fire extinguishers, but it was too late for the boat.”

He says the flames started to get higher and the smoke was getting thicker. He and Huddleston tried for several minutes to put out the fire before giving up and abandoning ship.

“It was a losing battle. It was a matter of him either losing his life and the boat, or him losing the boat.”

We asked about his injury. “On a scale of 1 to 10, how painful is that right now?” Blake replied “probably about a 7.”

Firefighters used Air One to do water drops to help put out the flames. The boat fire was under control at 1:01 p.m. and extinguished at 2:02 p.m.

As for deciding whether to leave the now-torched boat where it is now, fire captain Peter Akiona says “it all depends on the condition of the boat, and we determined that it was unsafe for us to bring it in. It probably may sink, so being that it is in the condition that it was, we leave it where it is.” Removal and salvage will be handled by Huddleston.

Speaking of which, he tells us he has insurance and is doing fine, considering he just lost his boat, which he values at $90,000. As for Blake, he said he was doing okay, but was going to the hospital to get his arm checked out.

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