Two-alarm fire guts boat at Kalaeloa dry dock

Two-alarm fire guts boat at Kalaeloa dry dock
Photo courtesy: David Sprague
Photo courtesy: David Sprague

KAPOLEI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Authorities are still investigating the cause of the blaze that damaged a dry docked boat in Kalaeloa on Saturday.

Officials said the flames may have been sparked by plasma-cutting tools that the crew was using while fixing the boat's hull.

Strong winds may have blown embers onto the hull and set it on fire. No injuries were reported.

Fire crews from the west side of Oahu rushed to a dry dock in Kapolei at the Kalaeloa Barbers Point Harbor around 10:45 Saturday morning.

They were faced with a boat on fire near a propane tank and dozens of onlookers.

Luckily everyone walked away unscathed.  But it took eight fire companies nearly two hours to battle the blaze.

Just moments before crews arrived, cell phone video captured the fierce fire.

"Yeah its fine now, I'm OK. It was scary at first," said Jonathan Nguyen.

Jonathan, a realtor for Coldwell Banker, stopped by the dock to deliver lunch.  That's when he saw his family's boat go up in flames.

"Right when I got here, it pretty much just started and everyone's running away just afraid that the fuel or the tanks were gonna blow," Jonathan said.

In fact, Acting Battalion Chief Bryan Soares said one of the oxygen tanks did blow.

Luckily, the propane tank didn't.

"The owner of the boat was doing plasma cutting and sparks from cutting caught the foam and started spreading to the interior of the hull," said Soares.

That owner is Jonathan's father.

"He was the one doing the welding and then he was trying to put it out and then good thing he jumped right out when it went right up," said Jonathan.

Jonathan said they were so close they could actually feel the heat of the flames on their skin.

"Luckily he jumped out in time. He was trying to put it out but then it went up like within two, three seconds. It was up to all the way to the top," he said.

Soares said the fire was out by 12:30 p.m.  Everyone was unharmed.

But as for the boat, Jonathan says the damage is devastating.

His father says the damage is estimated at $300,000.

The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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