WAIKIKI (KHNL) - Many beach-goers saw a spectacular but scary scene just offshore Saturday afternoon. Five men were forced to abandon ship on the Leilani, a 46-foot long-line fishing vessel, when their boat was taken over by fire at around 3 pm.
Given a choice, would you stay on-board a burning boat, or take your chances in the open ocean?
The five fishermen aboard the Leilani chose to jump ship, and that proved to be a very good decision. The men waited for nearly a half hour in the water before they were rescued by nearby good Samaritans from the Outrigger Canoe Club. Looking at stunning chopper video, you can see why the fishermen were forced off the boat, into the water.
Flames ripped through the front of the boat as it rocked violently back and forth in the wind. The flames rose at least twenty feet into the air and the 46-foot boat caused smoke and fire to pour into the skyline that could be scene from Hawaii Kai to Waikiki.
"The boat was approximately 2 miles offshore, said Captain Frank Johnson of the Honolulu Fire Department. "So people could see it all the way from Hawaii Kai to Waikiki and further west. We received calls from people all over the place. "
The five fishermen were brought to shore on near the Waikiki natatorium. They were treated by emergency personal waiting on the scene. Ruben Aupon, a fisherman onboard the Leilani, got much more than he bargained for on this, his first day on the job.
"The Coast Guard came and then the rescue guy came to rescue us," said Aupon. "Thanks for them, thanks for everybody. Without them we would all be floating."
The fishermen were treated inside an ambulance for about 15 minutes, and then they all literally walked away with no injuries. At the same time, back out at sea, Honolulu Fire Departments' Moku Ahi, shot water onto the flames, dousing the fire.