Gas fumes blamed for Des Moines Marina fire

by: Chris Legeros Updated:

Des Moines, Wash. - Gasoline fumes were detected on a boat moored at the Des Moines Marina on Sunday night shortly before it blew up and started a dock fire.

Des Moines Police Sgt. Doug Jenkins said a man and a woman had been hired to clean a boat that was moored at "J" dock. When they smelled gas, they started to look around for the source of the leak. Jenkins said, "they opened up the bilge cover and it sounds like they might have turned on a light or flipped a switch or something, but there was an explosion." If fuel had been leaking on the boat, any spark of electricity could have ignited it.

The fire that followed burned the unidentified man and the woman, 32-year-old Dolores James Junior. Her daughter said James is in serious condition at Harborview Medical Center, with bandages on her head, legs and arms.

A total of eight boats burned and six of them were totaled. Kelli Jones lost her 27-foot Carver. She said, "the whole upper portion is burned to a crisp." John White said his Bayliner was also damaged beyond repair. White said, "the whole top of it is melted off."

Fortunately, only one boat spilled a small amount of gasoline into the water. A sheen that was spotted in the marina Sunday night had disappeared by Monday morning. Insurance companies should cover much of the losses. Every boat owner who is moored at the Des Moines Marina is required to have a minimum of$300,000 in liability coverage.