Officials said someone aboard a neighboring boat at Otter Point Yacht Club in the 600 block of Otter Point Road heard a smoke alarm, then saw smoke coming from the cabin of the 35-foot long range cruiser.
He called 911 before 11:30 a.m., according to the fire marshal, who said about eight firefighters from the Abingdon Fire Company snuffed out the blaze in 10 minutes.
Investigators determined the fire began in the cabin console and was deemed accidental, caused by an unspecified electrical event. The owner was not aboard when the fire began, authorities said.
The Coast Guard only requires smoke alarms in the sleeping compartments of small inspected vessels that carry paying passengers, but there is no such requirement for recreational boats.
The Office of the State Fire Marshal recommends that all boat owners install smoke alarms in each sleeping area and outside each sleeping area or level of the boat, just as required in our homes," Senior Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire said in a statement to Patch.
"For example, this boat's sleeping area was below deck, and the fire originated within the cabin's electronic console," Alkire said. "His only exit would have been blocked if he had been below deck."
Had the owner been asleep without a smoke alarm on the boat, "we could have had a very different and unfortunate outcome," Alkire said. "This simple device can save lives, and just as in this case, protect neighboring boats, docks, or structures if the boat is kept at a moorage. A smoke alarm is the cheapest insurance you can buy for your on-the-water home or pleasure craft."