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Boat Explosion Injures 3 after Gas Was Pumped into Fishing Rod Holder

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A boat explosion injured three people at a dock on the North Carolina coast on Friday, after two people had pumped 28 gallons of fuel into the fishing rod holder.

Jeff Williamson informed the two people on the boat that they had mistakenly pumped gas into the wrong area. His advice was for them to call a towing company immediately, that way they could avoid a dangerous explosion caused by an ignition spark.

“I noticed a sheen of gas on the water and thought he might have misfueled,” Williamson said. “I advised him he better call a tow company to tow him back to the marina instead of cranking the boat because it might explode. The inevitable happened.”

The spark occurred when the battery cables were disconnected, which immediately caused an explosion and injured David Martin Jr., 40, of Charlotte; Jonathan Bickett, 35, of Charlotte; and Kendrick Schwarz, 24, of Brunswick County.

“I’ve seen a boat explode before with a fuel leak, so I was aware of what would happen if a spark got in that much fuel,” Williamson said.

“I’ve been to Fort Fisher when they do the cannon firings. It was like a cannon exploded and then it was just a huge ball of fire with a lot of black smoke.”

A nearby restaurant and fishing center also has to be temporarily evacuated.

Fortunately for everyone involved, none of them sustained life-threatening injuries and crews had the fire put out in under 15 minutes. Both Martin and Bickett were airlifted to a nearby burn clinic to treat non-life threatening injuries.

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