PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Several people, a young child and a dog had to jump overboard into the Allegheny River when heavy smoke began billowing from a burning motor boat Monday evening.
The fire broke out around 6:15 p.m. near the Fort Duquesne Bridge.
Four adults, an 18-month-old child and a dog were forced to jump from the boat to escape the fire while onlookers watched in horror.
“Well, as I called it, inferno on the Allegheny,” witness George Mobily said.
It remains unclear how the fire started.
“I was fishing here, like I always do for the last 10 years, and saw flames on that boat, probably about 10 yards out from that column,” Mobily said.
“Looked over, and it looked like a little bit of fire. I think they tried to stop it, but they didn’t have any luck. Next thing you know, they jumped off and that’s when it really caught,” another witness said.
River Rescue used water to put out the fire while a fire truck sent foam down from the Fort Duquesne Bridge. Officials say none of the victims were wearing a life jacket.
“We’re assuming they swam to shore. The first thing our crews heard is that they were here on the shore and that they had reported to the boathouse,” Pittsburgh Public Safety spokesperson Sonya Toler said.
Paramedics say the victims suffered from second and third degree burns. Two ambulances took everyone, including the dog, to the hospital.
“I’m pretty surprised to be honest with you. I’ve never seen anything like it,” one witness said.
The boat was destroyed, but that’s insignificant compared to what could have been.
“It was indeed a potential for tragedy, and thank goodness we only have minor burns to the victims,” Toler said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.