Passenger seriously burned in stove blast on Maine charter vessel

A passenger aboard a charter fishing boat off the coast of Maine suffered second- and third-degree burns on one of his arms when a butane stove exploded on the vessel, the U.S. Coast Guard reported.

The 28-foot Dawg Daze, based in Harpswell, radioed the Coast Guard at 0952 on Aug. 4 that a passenger had been injured and the vessel was heading back to port. The boat was about 28 miles offshore in an area known as Jeffrey’s Ledge when the incident occurred. Six passengers and the captain were on board.

Coast Guard Lt. Nicholas Barrow said a 47-foot motor lifeboat was dispatched from Station South Portland to meet Dawg Daze and transfer the injured man for medical treatment.

“We ended up meeting (Dawg Daze) about seven miles off of Portland, rendezvoused with them and took the passenger on our boat on a Stokes litter,” Barrow said.

The EMS personnel treated the 35-year-old man as the Coast Guard boat headed back to shore. He was then taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where he was in stable condition on Aug. 5. No further medical information was available.

Barrow said the Coast Guard did not know the cause of the explosion, which occurred in the forward compartment of the vessel. No problems with Dawg Daze were reported before the incident. Seas were 1 to 2 feet with 5- to 10-knot winds.

“The captain of the boat reported to us at the time that the person who sustained the injury was somehow attempting to use the stove, or was in the vicinity of it, and (the victim) was the only person there at the time,” Barrow said.

The captain also reported that a hand-held extinguisher had been used, but the explosion “did not cause any kind of widespread fire,” Barrow said. Dawg Daze sustained cosmetic damage near the stove, he said.

Because the stove was on an uninspected vessel carrying six passengers or fewer, “I don’t believe that particular piece of equipment falls under any regulatory requirements or restrictions,” Barrow said. “I can just speak from my personal experience running search and rescue here out of Portland for the past two years that (a stove explosion) is not a very common occurrence.”

Barrow declined to identify the boat’s owner or captain, saying the incident was still under investigation. A website for Maine Ocean Adventures of Portland lists Dawg Daze as a vessel for charter, specializing in Casco Bay cruises and deep-sea fishing. Phone calls to the company were not returned.

Barrow said the emergency assistance provided to Dawg Daze highlighted the Coast Guard’s working relationships with local agencies.

“It was a little bit of a departure from what we would typically see in this type of response,” he said. “We knew there was going to be some time between when we transferred the patient to our boat and made our way back into Portland, so we embarked three fire and EMS crew on the way out. Our crews generally don’t have that elevated level of training or expertise to deal with patients like burn victims.”

By Professional Mariner Staff