Bokeelia boat combusts into roaring flames

Published: August 18, 2022 4:22 PM EDT
Updated: August 18, 2022 5:21 PM EDT

The owner is confused about why and how his boat became engulfed in flames in Bokeelia Wednesday night.

Robert Biermann, the owner of the boat, bought the boat when he moved to Bocilla Island Club five years ago.

Biermann said the boat was always well maintained, adding to the mystery of how this happened.

Sandy Orio and her husband Tony heard the fire before they saw the fire.

“All of a sudden, we heard a kind of like a poof, kind of like a Roman Candle firework goes off,” Sandy said. “So, I turned back to my left and saw a big blaze and said, Oh my gosh, the boats on fire to my husband, Tony.”

Quickly, they grabbed their phones, called 911, then courageously ran toward the flames, and began recording.

“And they were here within five minutes,” Sandy said. “But it felt like an eternity, felt like an eternity.”

The flames left the boat scorched, leaving behind grey and black ashes everywhere.

boat
The damage done to the boat seen from the WINK News drone . (CREDIT: WINK News)

“By the time we arrived, the flames were out,” Biermann said. “It was a dark smoking hole in the water.”

Unsure of how everything happened, Biermann can only be thankful it wasn’t worse and nobody was hurt.

“We’re just thankful that the gas tanks on the boat didn’t explode,” Biermann said. “And light anything else on fire around here.”

The state fire marshal will inspect the boat and determine the cause.

“We don’t even know if we can replace this boat for what we had an insured for,” Biermann said. “So it’s a big question and hopefully, our insurance company will treat us fairly.”

The Matlacha/Pine Island Fire Control District said the damage would have been worse if firefighters didn’t get there when they did. Nobody was on the boat at the time and there were no injuries.