Just before 11:30 p.m., the Dane County Sheriff’s Office, Madison Fire Department and Madison Police responded to a caller who saw a boat on fire and heard people screaming, Sgt. Kyle Keller said in a report.
The 17-foot 1976 Sundance boat was a few hundred feet from the shoreline near the 100 block of East Wilson Street when it caught fire, he said.
The owner unsuccessfully tried to extinguish the flames with an on-board extinguisher, but he and the two others had to jump into the water and swim to safety, Keller said.
The Fire Department Lake Rescue Team launched from Olin Park and reached the burning boat as it was slowly drifting toward a floating dock, spokeswoman Cynthia Schuster said. The rescue boat can deliver up to 500 gallons of water per minute, and it quickly knocked down the fire and used the water pressure to push the boat closer to shore at Law Park, where it was secured with rope.
The owner told firefighters he had recently purchased the boat and it was operating fine. After turning off the engine for a while, he attempted to restart it, but after a few tries, the motor flashed, sparking the fire and forcing them to abandon it, Schuster said.
No injuries were reported, but the boat was a total loss, with $2,500 in estimated damage.