Bullfrog gas Accident

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Tim Fortier

Well-Known Member
Friday afternoon I was at the Bullfrog marina all of a sudden I herd an explosion with people screaming. I was at the marina store and this happened at the fuel dock so I wasen't real close , it would have appeared that some one forgot to put the blower on after fueling . I am reaching out to see if any one knows any more about this . I was told a total of 3 helicopters and 1 plane flew out with the victims . I was hanging out watching the response team show up for the most part it was very depressing most all the emt responders didn't seem to be in good enough shape to even run. I offered to carry one guys gear but he turned me down, I also asked some of the boat crew drivers to go pick up the EMT people on the 4 wheelers but that didn't happen either , in part I pray these people are OK and strongly suggest that Arymark or park service or who ever could work on a better emergency plan . Kind of like way back in school with fire drills etc.
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Houseboat explosion at Lake Powell leaves several injured
Written by Mori Kessler
August 21, 2017


Stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Seven people were injured Friday afternoon at Lake Powell when their houseboat exploded near a fuel dock.

Emergency responders at the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area were sent to a fuel dock at the Bullfrog marina after receiving report of a houseboat explosion in which several people were injured, according to a joint news release issued Monday by the National Park Service and Kane County Sheriff’s Office.

“Several National Park Service personnel responded to the incident and triaged seven patients, ranging from three to 53 years old, suffering from partial thickness burns,” the release states.

The patients were taken to the Bullfrog medical clinic with five ultimately flown to larger medical facilities via plane and helicopter.

The names of those involved have not being released.

Witnesses said the houseboat had become untied from the dock and was drifting away after refueling. The boat’s operator started the houseboat at that point, and the explosion followed. Witnesses stated they believed not enough time was given for proper ventilation after refueling.

Initial investigation indicates that the cause of the explosion was inadequate ventilation of low bilge areas prior to ignition of the boat.

The houseboat was towed to the shore.

The Utah State Fire Marshall and National Park Service are conducting separate investigations into the incident.

A houseboat explosion also occurred on Lake Powell in the Crystal Springs Canyon area in mid-July. The houseboat’s generator was reported to have exploded during attempts to start it. That incident resulted in the death of a Colorado woman and injured four others.

This report is based on statements from emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.
Several injured in houseboat explosion at Lake Powell

BULLFROG, Utah – An explosion on a houseboat at Lake Powell injured seven people.upload_2017-8-21_20-37-13.png

The explosion happened at the Bullfrog Marina fuel dock on the afternoon of Friday, August 18, according to a joint news release from the Kane County Sheriff’s Office and the National Park Service.

Several National Park Service personnel responded to the incident and triaged the seven patients, ranging in age from three to 53 years old. The patients were transported to Bullfrog medical clinic, and five were then flown to larger medical facilities for treatment of burns.

Their names or where they live was not released.

While the patients were being treated, crews removed the houseboat from the fuel dock, and towed it to shore.

Witnesses said fueling was complete, but the houseboat became untied and drifted away from the dock. At that point, witnesses said, the operator started the houseboat before proper ventilation time had been achieved. The initial investigation points to inadequate ventilation of low bilge areas as the cause of the explosion.

The Utah State Marshall is leading the investigation into the explosion. The National Park Service is conducting a separate investigation.
This thing is pretty weird , I had my days messed up it was Friday after noon not Saturday that happens to me some times at the lake but what I saw was a newer speed boat blow up not a house boat like this article says . Any way I just hope every one envolved is going to be OK.
I was down over the weekend as well, was there while the helicopters and planes were coming in, and then on Saturday when the boat was being taken out. As of Sunday night the boat was in the overflow parking lot.
The story I was told was basically the same, except it wasn't a houseboat, it was a Rinker Siesta 243, with some blue checkers and stripes on the side. it was a v bottom deck boat type with a small cabin, probably for the toilet. The boat sunk as it drifted away after the explosion and was brought back up on Saturday. The passenger side of the windshield was gone as were all the cushions. There was a little bit of fire charring on a hole that comes out of the engine compartment but not much more.
Boat and truck had Colorado registration but the trailer had a New Mexico plates.
Super sad for all involved.
This thing is pretty weird , I had my days messed up it was Friday after noon not Saturday that happens to me some times at the lake but what I saw was a newer speed boat blow up not a house boat like this article says . Any way I just hope every one envolved is going to be OK.
After seeing your post I checked another site and the following article appears to be the most accurate....no mention of the type boat. The other stories appear to be obvious assumptions or laziness on the part of the reporters and resulted in a mixture of fact and fiction. They probably saw/read or searched and got the story of the HB explosion in Crystal Canyon in July and then made some assumptions about this explosion. Standard. Of course I say this story is accurate more accurate except for the picture which is Anchovy Point down by the dam. At least they got it within 60 miles as the crow flies.:oops:

"This is a true story; characters, events and timelines may be fictional, altered or created for dramatic effect"

Boat Explosion on Lake Powell

August 22
by KXAZ News

Bullfrog, Utah – On the afternoon of Friday August 18, 2017, National Park Service Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Dispatch received a report of a boat explosion with several injured persons and possible flame and smoke still present at the Bullfrog Fuel Dock on Lake Powell in Kane County, Utah. Several National Park Service personnel responded to the incident and triaged seven patients, ranging from three to 53 years old, suffering from partial thickness burns.

The patients were transported to the Bullfrog medical clinic; five of the patients were then transported to larger medical facilities via fixed wing and rotor medical aircraft. While patient treatment was underway, the damaged vessel was towed away from the fuel dock and moored to the fuel dock breakwater where it began to list; the vessel was towed to shore by ARAMARK Executive Services and was retrieved on August 19, 2017.

Witnesses stated that refueling was completed, but the boat became untied and started drifting away from the dock. The boat operator then started the boat before proper ventilation time could be achieved. Initial investigation indicates that the cause of the explosion was inadequate ventilation of low bilge areas prior to ignition of the boat.

The Utah State Fire Marshall is leading the investigation on the cause of the boat explosion. The National Park Service is also conducting a separate investigation into the incident.
I read a go fund me post here in Grand Junction. There are a local family. 2 twin boys, mom, sister Grandmother and father were all burnt. Apperantly the finished fueling and pushed off, upon starting it blew. Dad threw a couple kids out and others jumped. They hope to be out of the hospital next week
The family involved in the accident:


Sutherland Family Medical Expenses

$7,430 of $10k goal



On Friday afternoon August 18, 2017 Dustin Sutherland, his wife Lisa, their 6yr old daughter, 3 yr old twin sons, and his mother-in law, and father in law were at Lake Powell. They all headed over to Bullfrog to meet up with friends, and drop the father-in law off at the dock while they headed over to the marina to top off the boat with fuel. Once the boat was fueled, they untied the boat, and pushed off the dock. When Dustin started the boat, it exploded. Lisa was holding one of the twin boys on her lap in the back of the boat and her mom was holding the other twin in her lap on the opposite side. Their daughter was standing in the aisle near the driver seat . Dustin grabbed one of the twins and threw him to someone standing on the nearby dock and threw the other kids into the water to get them away from the burning boat. The adults all jumped into the water and the boat sank moments later. Medical was called and they were all taken to the clinic in Bullfrog where 3 flight for life helicopters, and one fixed wing plane was waiting to take them to the burn center in Salt lake City UT. The twin boys both had 1st and 2nd degree burns on their legs as well as blisters on various parts of thie bodies, Dustin has 2nd degree burns on his legs, and arm. Lisa's legs were burned as well as her mothers. Their daughter received a flashburn from the exposion. They are all still currently being treated at the hospital. They are hopeful that maybe by the end of the week they might all be released. They will have a long road to recovery as well as a mountain of medical expenses. It will be a while before Dustin and Lisa are able to return to work. The donations received will help to pay for the medical expenses and cost of living expenses until they are able to return to their full time jobs. All donations are greatly appreciated no matter how big or small.

Help spread the word!

BF fuel dock was open Sunday; they also told me they has sent two people to Halls and it was open. IDK whats really going on at Halls
Well, a boat is a boat is a boat and it exploded because the captain didn't follow procedures or use common sense. Immediately post fueling with gasoline is THE time when there WILL be gas fumes hanging around in a bilge area. If you don't stick your nose down by the vent fan opening in the hull before you start the engine, you are being irresponsible. I understand the thinking about the boat drifting away from the dock and wanting to get back, blocking the captains mind about the fume risk. But it is no excuse. Burn recovery is long and terrible and painful on any part of the body, but sounds like these folks suffered a lot of damage. My sympathy goes out to them and one more incident of acting before thinking is logged in my brain relative to my own boating. This incident may save other lives and pain and misery. It is too bad when anyone has to learn the lesson to make the rest of us safer.
I would expect there is more going on with the boat, that we just don't have the details of. Yes, you should run your blower long enough to adequately vent your bilge, but a properly designed boat should not take on fumes during refilling. The fuel fill and vent on this boat, is about 1 foot below the gunwale, properly designed to prevent the entry of fumes. Assuming the engine hatch was closed, any fumes present would likely not be able to enter the bilge.

There was a leak, or they were filling portable gas cans inside the boat, or they had hatches open during fueling, a propane stove was leaking fuel, seems much more is going on here.

I wonder who untied the boat prior to the boat being ready to start. It seems multiple events took place to cause the captain to start the boat prior to properly venting the bilge. This accident was very preventable, but in hind site understandable based on the circumstances mentioned. A good reminder for all of us when dealing with gasoline.

Thoughts and prayers for the family, what a horrible accident.
Thought and prayers for the family.

I wouldn't be too quick to call someone on this, and here's why it could be another reason for the accident.

Last year at Bullfrog the gas attendant pumped gas into our line locker, which drains to the bilge. I was waiting for the attendant to hand me the fuel nozzle when he just sat down and started pumping gas into the line locker access point. I stopped him, but he did get half gallon in there. I made him get me the big diapers to soak it all up and I cleaned the gas up and gave him the diapers back to dispose of.

I really feel if I hadn't noticed this, the attendant may not of confessed and just handed me the nozzle after realizing his mistake. If I had an inboard motor I wouldn't of been able to start the motor for many hours until the gas fumes were gone. We had an outboard. I won't ever know truthfully if the attendant would of spoken up or just pretend nothing happened.

Just saying...
I have fueled at most of the marinas at powell, and it always seems the fueling crew is in a hurry to cut you loose and get the next boat in. I have been "set a drift" by the dock personnel before I had the engines running while waiting a reasonable time to run the blower. like stated above, multiple events, or lack there of, typically are causes a major accident. the fueling crew directing the captain to run the blower for 5minutes prior to starting the engine, and not untying a boat until the engine is running could help prevent this, untying early can cause the captain to HAVE TO start the engines sooner to avoid a seen/known safety event........drifting into something
We had two within a week of each other this month here on Havasu - both cases a non-vented hold - one when they went to launch - since we have a major gas stop before people pull in at Windsor to launch likely they filled up - as most do - on the way to the launch ramp. It actually led to some talk in our paper about better training for boat owners on venting their bilge.

But, don't forget in a few cases it has been a short in the blower and when turned on to vent it sparked an explosion so I would never say unequivocally it was the fault of not trying to vent the hold. There also needs to be a warning to check the blower for any kind of electrical shorts, our boats and all the boat equipment take a huge beating between towing, storage in the elements in many cases, as well as bouncing down the lake.

Check your blower is working and wired properly and your bilge pump is working as part of your normal boat maintenance and then put a huge note, if necessary, to lift up the back boat cover and then vent the bilge well before starting. Everyone who sells a boat whether privately or at a boat show should stress the importance of safety.
Things must have changed since we were in the water. We only got gas at DR, Except once at Halls, and the attendants never gave us the nozzle until we were ready, and never tried to hurry us off the fuel dock. We only went before Memorial Day and after Labor Day.
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