DISASTERS

North Carolina boat exploded after gas was pumped into fishing rod holder

A boat exploded at a dock on the North Carolina coast, injuring three, after the boaters accidentally pumped 28 gallons of gasoline into a fishing rod holder instead of the fuel tank.

The three people hospitalized are the boat's owner, David Martin Jr., 40, of Charlotte; passenger Jonathan Bickett, 35, of Charlotte; and Kendrick Schwarz, 24, of Brunswick County, Scott Pritchard with the state Wildlife Resource Commission told WECT.

Schwarz worked for Sea Tow, a towing service called after the two realized the mistake.

Jeff Williamson, who runs a fishing charter out of Ocean Isle Beach, said he warned the boaters after seeing the sheen of gas on the water.

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"I advised him he better call a tow company to tow him back to the marina instead of cranking the boat because it might explode," he told WECT.

As battery cables were being disconnected in an effort to prevent a spark, a spark occurred anyway, igniting the fuel.

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Martin and Bickett were airlifted to a Chapel Hill hospital. An ambulance took Schwarz to a hospital in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with minor burns.

Martin told WBTV in a phone interview that he and Bickett are in a burn unit with severe injuries, but they're thankful to be alive.