ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MO (KTVI)-- A man is hospitalized with burns over more than sixty percent of his body after a boat explosion in the North Shore Marina Friday night. The victim, identified as Paul W. Kribs, 51, of Chesterfield, had fueled his boat and was attempting to start it when the boat caught fire.
Witnesses tell FOX2, Kribs had been having trouble starting his boat, a 30' day cruiser, which was in its slip. He was trying to fix the problem when the explosion happened.
Several people were sitting in the nearby Boathouse restaurant, watching as it all unfolded.
“We heard a boom and of course everybody ran to see what was going on,” witness Bob Kailemeier old us. “It was mostly a lot of smoke but then eventually there was a pretty good flame as the gas tanks erupted I guess and it burned up.”
Officials say a second boat caught on fire, then the dock, followed by a third boat.
Witnesses report the initial boat floated away from the dock, still burning, and was moving toward gasoline storage tanks when the marina’s owner got in the water and managed to push the burning boat away.
As firefighters were putting out the blaze, they were also moving the victim to a different marina with space to land a helicopter. Kribs was airlifted to Mercy Hospital where he is listed in serious condition.
People how know him says Kribs purchased the boat earlier this week. They say he is by no means a rookie boater and has been known in this St. Charles County marina community for years.
Firefighters say the dock where the fire broke out was severely damaged and will have to be closed. However most of the marina’s business shouldn’t be affected over the holiday weekend.