Boat Fires and Explosions

Boat explosions and fires are more common than one would think. In 2019, there were over 150 boat fires across the country — many of which occurred during refueling. Boats can be dangerous vessels, with dated electrical wiring and fuel containment systems; many boats are made of wood, a well-known accelerant. Boats are sometimes equipped with generators, which can explode. Most boats are not required to have any fire suppression system on board, other than routine fire extinguishers, and dangerous gasoline vapors may travel around the hull of a vessel if they escape a fuel containment system on board.

The most notable boat fire in decades happened on Labor Day 2019 aboard the scuba diving vessel Conception off the coast of Santa Barbara. Investigators found the vessel, which had passed federal inspections, did not have smoke detectors and only had one escape ladder from the passenger sleeping quarters. Passengers on the vessel all plugged in their phones to charge them, overloading the circuits and causing an electrical fire that killed all the passengers aboard.

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