Fuel explosion damages skiff in Cordova Harbor

Kade Butler’s skiff, severely damaged in an accident. The explosion occurred in Cordova Harbor around 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2, 2019, when gasoline floating on the surface of the water was accidentally ignited. Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

A fuel explosion sparked by gasoline floating on the water in Cordova Harbor that was accidentally ignited severely damaged a skiff owned by Kade Butler on Tuesday, July 2.

The incident began shortly after 2 p.m. when gasoline that had entered the skiff’s bilge compartment was inadvertently pumped overboard. The skiff operator, unaware of the gasoline floating on the water nearby, set the fuel alight as he was burning the ends of pieces of twine. Witnesses reported a sudden burst of flame that set fire to the surface of the water surrounding the craft.

Kade Butler’s skiff, moments after the fuel explosion that damaged it. The explosion occurred in Cordova Harbor around 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2, 2019, when gasoline floating on the surface of the water was accidentally ignited. Photo by Vivian Kennedy/The Cordova Times

The skiff was rapidly evacuated and Butler, assisted by a mechanic from Cordova Outboard, quickly retrieved a fire extinguisher to douse the blaze. The flames were contained within two minutes and completely extinguished within 10 minutes. Butler used one of the harbor’s two 150-pound, wheeled fire extinguishers. Hand held extinguishers can also be found in black plastic tubes along the harbor’s main floats.

Butler’s father was taken to hospital with what were described as second-degree burns to his arms. No other injuries were reported, and nearby vessels apparently escaped damage from the incident.

Water is sprayed onto the fire-damaged engine of Kade Butler’s skiff. The explosion occurred in Cordova Harbor around 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2, 2019, when gasoline floating on the surface of the water was ignited. Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times