'It was a tragic accident': Fatal Vancouver Island marina fire believed to have started on boat
VICTORIA -- A Mother’s Day boating trip on the ocean in North Saanich took a tragic turn after a fatal boat fire killed one man and left two others injured on Sunday.
CTV News Vancouver Island has confirmed with the marina that the man who died, who was in his 50s, was a longtime member of North Saanich Marina and was taking his mother out for a boat ride.
Oay Bay Marine Group CEO Brook Castelsky said everyone is devastated by the loss.
“It was a tragic accident that resulted in one fatality, unfortunately – one of our marina customers who had been with us a long time,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers certainly go out to the family at this difficult time.”
Castelsky said firefighters were able to contain the fire to just the vessel and fuel dock area so it didn’t spread.
It’s unclear how the fire started but the man had just finished fueling up the Bayliner model boat that has an onboard engine and was untying it from the dock when the fire started.
Two massive plumes of dark smoke filled the sky on Sunday at about 4 p.m. after the boat caught fire.
Witnesses on the water say they heard a loud explosion and watched the fire jump from the boat to a fuel station.
"We went just to go around the corner and noticed a boat fully engulfed in the flames,” said Chris Wallace.
“We stopped our boat and at that time the boat actually exploded a little bit. When the flames jumped from the boat to the fuel dock is got really scary... we thought it was going to blow up."
Quick action by one of the marina staff members prevented the incident from being much worse.
“Our staff member on scene did an incredible job in a very split second of shutting off fuel and doing what you can in an emergency situation,” said Castelsky.
The staff member was taken to hospital for shock, but was not physically injured. It’s believed that the other person who was taken to hospital in non-life-threatening condition was the man’s mother.
“Everyone throughout Oak Bay Marina group and North Saanich Marina, we have a tight crew and there is some sadness because we see our marina customers as part of that crew,” said Castelsky.
The marina is working with the family to organize an event to remember the man.
“It is a difficult time, but we are holding together and supporting each other,” said Castelsky.
RCMP media relations officer Chris Manseau said the fire is not believed to be suspicious.
"The investigation is going to continue," said Manseau. “We have some specialized units going to the scene today,"
On Monday, an underwater recovery team headed to the scene to investigate and the boat is expected to be lifted out of the water in the coming days.
"The evidence gathered from that boat will determine when the fire started and where exactly it started," said Manseau.