Upon Further Review: If It Smells Like Gasoline...
On June 25, 2009, a boater at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area was preparing to head out for a day on the lake. What happened next proves that knowledge is a wonderful thing... if you decide to apply it.
According to a park report,
The owner, a Los Angeles firefighter, had just launched his vessel after fueling at the Wahweap gas station. Prior to starting the inboard/outboard engine, he raised his engine cover to vent the engine compartment.
This is definitely proper procedure. Unfortunately, step two in the process resulted in a decision that probably looks a bit different to the boater—upon further review.
Even though [the owner] could smell gasoline fumes, he started the engine, which immediately burst into flames. After unsuccessfully attempting to extinguish the fire, all three adults and three children onboard were forced to abandon ship into the lake where they were picked up by nearby boaters.
Within 11 minutes of the call the NPS fire boat was on scene. Firefighters Kean Mihata, Joe Florko, Ben Davis, and vessel operator/Captain Jared St.Clair found the vessel, a 21' 1987 Sea Ray, on the nearby shore, fully engulfed in flames. Within four minutes, the flames had been knocked down enough for the fire boat to come along side the burning boat and use a short attack line to suppress the remaining fire. The boat was towed back to the launch ramp and removed from the water.
There were no visitor or employee injuries in the incident. Although the boat was saved from sinking, it is a total loss.
As is often the case in such situations, there may be more to this story than was initially reported, but there's certainly a lesson in this tale for all boaters: if it smells like gasoline...