Tidewater Marina Boat Fire Caused By Exploding Gasoline Vapors

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Credit: Susquehanna Hose Company

HAVRE DE GRACE - According to the Office of the State Fire Marchall, the boat fire at Tidewater Marina on October 21 was caused by exploding gasoline vapors.

Officials say that Igor Vavilov, the boat’s owner, had just finished refueling his craft when he attempted to start the engine. Vavilov was on the starboard side starting the engine when he noticed a large fire on the interior port side.

Oliver Alkire, assistant public information officer for the Office of State Fire Marshall, said Vavilov remembered turning on the blower to dissipate the gasoline vapors. Still, Alkire believes it needed to be for longer.

Firefighters from the Susquehanna Hose Company were able to extinguish the blaze in less than 30 minutes with help from the Maryland Natural Resources Police and the U.S. Coastguard. Harford County HAZMAT also responded to the scene due to fears of toxic fumes.

According to officials, one marina employee was evaluated for smoke inhalation, and the fire caused a total of $30,000 in damage.

Gasoline vapors are highly volatile and can ignite from the most minor sparks. Gasoline vapor is heavier than air and can quickly build up inside a ship’s bilge due to improper refueling practices or a system error.

The Office of the State Fire Marshall recommends operating engine compartment blowers for at least 4 minutes and checking the engine compartment bilge for gasoline vapors before starting engines or generators.

For more information on how to prevent boat fires, visit FEMA’s website: here.

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