Igor Vavilov, the boat owner, told investigators he had just finished refueling the boat when he tried to start the engine, officials said. Vavilov was on the starboard side starting the engine when he saw a large fire within the interior port side, said Oliver Alkire, assistant public information officer for the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
Vavilov said he remembered turning on the blower to remove gasoline vapors, but believed it was not on long enough, Alkire said.
The Susquehanna Hose Company extinguished the fire in 30 minutes with the help of Maryland Natural Resources Police, Harford County HAZMAT Team and U.S. Coast Guard , officials said.
After the fire, one Tidewater Marina employee was evaluated for smoke inhalation, officials said. The fire caused $30,000 of damage, officials said.
Gasoline fumes are highly volatile and are a leading cause of marine related explosions and fires. Gasoline fumes, which are heavier than air, can easily build up in a vessel’s bilge because of improper refueling or fuel system leaks, officials said.
To prevent these mishaps, the state fire marshals’ office recommends operating engine compartment blowers for at least 4 minutes and checking the engine compartment bilge for gasoline vapors every time before starting engines or generators.
Other precautions for refueling include turning off the engine, not smoking, and securing power to all electric motors, pumps, by turning off the main battery switch.