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Life jackets save family after boat fire on Lake LBJ

Boat catches fire on Lake LBJ

A day on the lake for a family ended in catastrophe after their boat erupted in flames, forcing them to abandon the craft. Fortunately, all were wearing life jackets. Courtesy photo

A family of four jumped ship in the middle of Lake LBJ on May 29 when their vessel erupted in flames. The family was rescued by fellow boaters, said Dan Gower, chief of the Sunrise Beach Volunteer Fire Department. Life vests saved the family, Gower said, who overheard the father giving his children one of the best boating safety tips a person can learn.

“The father told his two sons, ‘This is why we wear life jackets all the time,” the chief said. “That’s a big lesson right there because you never know when you’ll end up in the water.”

Sunrise Beach VFD responded to a report of a boat fire on Lake LBJ at about 4 p.m. Sunday. 

“The dad said the engine suddenly blew, and there was a fire,” Gower said. “They all had life jackets on, so they abandoned ship.”

Other boaters in the vicinity of the blaze picked up the four and brought them to shore. 

“And, as it typically happens, folks on (personal watercraft) came by and began spraying water on the fire,” Gower said. 

Due to the size and maneuverability of personal watercraft, the drivers can splash water in a manner that can put out small craft fires. 

When Sunrise Beach VFD crew members arrived on the scene in their boat, they finished off the fire and towed the damaged craft to shore.

“It was a total loss,” Gower said.

The mother suffered from burns. Hamilton EMS, which provides emergency medical services to much of Llano County, treated her on the scene before CareFlite transported her by helicopter to an Austin-area hospital.

“It could have been so much worse,” Gower said. “It was rough out on the lake. There was a lot of boat traffic. It just shows how important wearing a life jacket is.”