Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire Department stops boat fire from spreading

Published: Mar. 14, 2021 at 6:54 PM EDT
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HARDY, Va. (WDBJ) - Six people had to jump off board after their boat exploded near Indian Pointe Marina Saturday.

Some of the vinyl siding on Indian Pointe Marina has melted off from the fire. But Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire Department Chief Todd Ohlerich said this fire could have caused much worse damage.

Around 3:30 Saturday afternoon, Ohlerich was called to Indian Pointe Marina for reports of a boat on fire. When he got there, four adults and two children had already swum back to shore after they jumped off the boat when it exploded.

“That caused for a little bit more concern due to water temperatures right now, that they’re so cold, they can get into hypothermic conditions pretty quickly,” Ohlerich said.

The next issue was that their 28-foot cabin cruiser was engulfed in flames and moving toward the other docks.

“There was a good chance it was going to catch the other docks on fire, so myself and another firefighter that happened to be on the fire boat that we keep here in the marina were able to get on the fire boat,” he explained.

They used the fire boat to push the flames and keep them away from the dock. Officials said the cruiser had too much fuel onboard and eventually sank to the bottom of the lake.

“We can replace a boat, we can’t replace people,” Thomas Meeks, who has a boat at the marina, said.

The front of the fire boat also had minor damages, “From trying to get it out of the way, but in the big picture, we were able to save the rest of the docks at the marina, so it was worth it,” Ohlerich said.

Meeks came by the marina Sunday to check on his own boat.

“Make sure it was fine, make sure it doesn’t smell like smoke, everything looks pretty good, they did a good job of keeping it away from the other boats,” he said.

Ohlerich said this fire serves as a reminder ahead of boating season to always wear life jackets onboard and to be cautious when refueling your boats.

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