PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A boat explosion Friday in Panama City Beach sent two people to the hospital with severe burns. Firefighters battled the blaze for hours before putting it out.
"People were running off the boat, running down the docks. Then we saw some flames coming up off the boat," Mark Elliott, a boater at the Marina, said.
An apparent boat explosion caused chaos at the Treasure Island Marina Friday afternoon. "No, never seen an explosion or a boat fire like this. I've always known the dangers of when you're fueling a boat up. You know one small spark can be very explosive," Elliott said.
Bay County Fire responded to the blaze around 3 p.m. "There was a lot of black smoke. We could see a little bit of the flames, but it was kind of far away," Dayana Garcia recalls. "About all we could see is the black smoke and then we heard the ambulance and the fire trucks."
Garcia said she saw flames from inside a restaurant nearby. She didn't notice the flames until a waiter pointed to them out the window.
Firefighters say the boat was at the Marina's fuel station when it caught fire. "It was tied up to the dock taking on fuel and then right after that another boat was there fueling up too," Elliott said, "he cut loose real quick and got out of the way before his boat got caught up in it."
Soon other emergency crews arrived to help put out the flames. "We work very well with the DEP and the Coast Guard on mitigating this hazard," Gabriel Moschella, the Fire Captain for Bay County Fire, said.
Firefighters say two people who were on the boat suffered severe burns to the lower half of their bodies. They were taken to the hospital. In the meantime, boaters like Mark Elliott say they're going to be more cautious the next time they get out on the water.
"Anytime you see anything happen you learn from everything and you always pay attention and say don't let that happen to me," Elliott said.
Firefighters say Treasure Island employees helped by cutting the tethered boat from the fuel station and helping passengers get onto the dock.