A FIRE that destroyed a boat in the Tweed River on Saturday was “bloody unbelievable”, according to a local charter operator.
Sea Master Fishing Charters' Peter Bolick stopped at the Terranora Inlet about noon near the True Blue, which was already hurling flames and smoke into the sky after catching alight about 11.16am.
“I couldn't believe it. I really thought someone had died on it,” Mr Bolick said.
“The little tender boat was still attached, a pushbike was still on board, and the first thing you do in a boat fire is jump into your tender.
“So I thought ‘Jesus, someone will die on that'.”
Inspector Greg Carey said the 42-year-old man on board was taken to Tweed Hospital with minor burns.
“From initial inquiries the fire may have started in the bilge pump below deck, which the man tried unsuccessfully to extinguish three times, but the exact cause is undetermined,” Insp Carey said.
“He suffered minor burns to his face and arms and was rescued by two men fishing nearby.”
Mr Bolick said the victim “jumped into the drink” before being rescued by two men in a tinnie.
“The tender boat floated away and we picked it up. The fire brigade came from the jetty at South Tweed and started pouring water onto the fire.”
Senior firefighter Greg Mackay said the fire's cause was unknown.
“Late in the afternoon, Waterways cut the anchor and towed the True Blue to a sandbar at the Ukerebagh Passage, where it sunk, and it's still sitting on the sandbar,” Mr Mackay said.
Mr Bolick said that because a gas cylinder exploded during the inferno, it could have been the result of a gas leak or an electrical short.
“Before we reached the inlet we thought it was a house fire at South Tweed.
“I'd say he must've been asleep on board when it started, because I'm pretty sure he lives on it, the poor bugger. It was well ablaze when we got there, but it got worse, then the gas bottle blew.
“I couldn't believe how hot it was, it was burning that hard, even with the firies pumping water onto it.
“I just hope he's safe and sound,” Mr Bolick said.
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