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Three injured in boat blaze

Arron Turner and Ted Morgan toss a grapnel at this burning boat, to ensure it doesn
Arron Turner and Ted Morgan toss a grapnel at this burning boat, to ensure it doesn't reach land, where extremely dry conditions exist on Shady Island. Three boaters were injured when a battery exploded Saturday night.
— image credit: Canadian Lifeboat Institution

Three boaters were injured around 6 p.m. Saturday when a battery exploded aboard a 26-foot aluminum skiff, which was destroyed by the ensuing blaze and eventually sank to the bottom of the Fraser River on the south side of Shady Island off Steveston.

A couple and their father were aboard the vessel, and were rescued by fishermen who were nearby at the time of the explosion.

"We are thanking everyone who helped, the...community fishermen who then pulled us out of the river to bring us to shore to be reunited with my father," one of the victims said on Facebook. "He is being treated for second degree burns, my husband received minor burns from the battery. We are all home safely with our children who are so grateful for your help. Thank you all for coming to our rescue."

John Horton, who was aboard the Steveston Lifeboat, operated by the volunteer-driven and donation-funded Canadian Lifeboat Institution, said the burning boat posed a serious hazard to Shady Island.

"If that boat had gone into the weeds, it would have set the whole island on fire," Horton told The Review Monday morning.

To prevent that from happening, a grapnel was thrown onto the burning remains of the boat, which was then towed away from the island.

Together with the fireboat from the Steveston Harbour Authority, the two vessels doused the flames on the boat, which eventually sank in about 25 feet of water.

Horton believes the current location of the boat's remains won't be a hindrance for boaters, and that the fire likely burned out all of the remaining fuel on the vessel, meaning virtually no contamination to the water.

According to Global News, Lorne Smith and Fred Giles were fishing for sockeye when they heard the explosion.

"We heard a loud pop and within seconds the people were in the water and the boat was fully engulfed in flames," Smith told Global News.

Smith and Giles rescued two people, while another nearby boat rescued a third person.

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