Two boats that caught fire off Captiva Saturday evening are a total loss, according to Capitva Fire District reports on the incident. One of the vessels, a houseboat, sank about 500 feet offshore. The second, a powerboat, drifted into mangroves where it remains awaiting to be towed away.
Captiva Fire Lt. Bart Lally was the first on scene about 7:30 p.m. He said two houseboats and two powerboats were anchored together in the channel. Lally said Dennis Biram, who has lived aboard a houseboat in the channel for many years, was working on the fuel system of a generator when a backfire ignited some gasoline on board. The flaming craft were set adrift unoccupied.
"The fire quickly spread to the second boat and he (Biram) untied them," said Lally. "One drifted to shore near Tween Waters (Marina). Both were fully involved when I arrived."
Captiva Fire District photo Firefighters on boats prepare to battle the inferno on one of two boats destroyed by fire Saturday off Captiva. One vessel sank 500 feet offshore while the other drifted to a mangrove shoreline.
Lally said the fires were controlled within a half hour and units, including one from Sanibel Fire, Iona-McGregor, Pine Island, the U.S. Coast Guard and Lee County Sheriff Marine Unit, were released from the scene within three hours.
"Biram was removed by Lee County EMS and treated for minor injuries and later released," said Lally.
The Lee County Sheriff's Office and Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission are continuing to investigate the incident.