Around 1:09 p.m., Newport News fire crews were called to the blaze about a half mile from the Denbigh Boat Ramp at the end of Denbigh Boulevard.
Simonsen said the boat on fire was easily visible from the James River Bridge. The boat was about 18 feet long, according to Simonsen.
He said two people were on board and jumped from the boat because of the fire. People in another boat picked them up, and people jet skiing nearby tried to help put out the fire by spraying water on the boat, Simonsen said.
He added that it wasn’t uncommon for good Samaritans to help in that way — they usually are much closer than the fireboats are.
No one was injured in the fire or response, but the boat sank to the bottom of the river in about 6 to 8 feet of water, Simonsen said.
A dispatcher said the blaze technically happened in Fort Eustis waters. The Virginia Marine Resource Commission is investigating the fire.