Coast Guard opens investigation into Hawaii Kai boat fire

Updated: Jan. 9, 2017 at 5:24 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The U.S. Coast Guard has opened an investigation into a boat fire that sent more than a dozen people jumping into Maunalua Bay on Sunday night to escape the flames.

No injuries were reported, and all occupants of the boat were accounted for after the blaze, which apparently started in the boat's engine.

"As we were coming out of the channel, it looked like ants, if you will, jumping off the boat. They were frantic," said Captain Pete Hopley, who responded to a distress call from the boat with his 30-foot trawler. "When I got on site, people were jumping off the boat. The boat was fully engulfed in flames."

The distress call for the incident came in around 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Hopley says he was in the vicinity when he heard the calls for help over the radio and rushed to the area to help. By the time he got there, a nearby 22-foot vessel had already picked up the survivors.

"All 15 of those people jumped on that 22-foot boat. So it was way loaded." Hopley said.

He also said it's not the first time he's seen that same boat having problems.

"I don't know the case of that boat, but I do know last weekend, I saw that boat having engine problems out the middle of the channel," he said.

On Monday, the U.S. Coast Guard says it can't locate the charred 36-foot boat -- or the boat's captain. The Coast Guard also said they're not sure if the boat sank or if it was recovered by it's owner, but they said the boat is not in its slip at the Hawaii Kai Marina.

"We're trying to get a hold of the captain because his phone was submerged in the water so we're trying to get a hold of him. The incident is still under investigation. We're not sure of the cause of the fire." said Petty Officer Amanda Levasseur.

The Coast Guard said there have been no reports of pollution from the incident.

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