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Man forced to jump into Alberni Harbour after boat explodes

Black smoke, flames were visible for kilometres
A stream of water from the Harbour Chieftain fireboat can be seen as crews fight a fire aboard a 35-foot aluminum work vessel in the Alberni Harbour on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. (PHOTO COURTESY JOANNA STANGOWITZ)

One man was forced to jump into the water after an explosion aboard his 35-foot boat in the Alberni harbour, Sunday afternoon, Sept. 18.

Monica Ahlroos was sitting on a bench at Harbour Quay looking out at the water when the vessel caught fire. “I was shocked to see first the black smoke and then the flames,” she said. “Then I saw the fire boat and two other boats.”

Port Alberni Fire Department received several 911 calls about the vessel fire, which was visible from shore, deputy fire chief Wes Patterson said. The call came in at 2:37 p.m. about the aluminum work-type boat and two firefighters arrived at the waterfront and jumped aboard the Harbour Chieftain, using the fire boat to respond to the fire.

“The person who was on the boat had to jump into the water due to the fire,” PAFD Chief Mike Owens said. One patient was transported via an unidentified vessel to Centennial Pier, where a BC Ambulance was waiting. Patterson did not have any information on the person’s condition or what caused the explosion and fire on the vessel.

The Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue boat were both called out, as well as the Port Alberni Port Authority and Ministry of Environment, in case of a spill from the vessel, Patterson explained.

“When we got there the boat was being towed. It’s on Holm Island right now and there’s no fear of it sinking at this time,” Patterson said, adding that the vessel’s owner is taking care of its salvage.

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