NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — A boat owner was injured Monday when a 20-foot vessel caught fire Monday on Marlin Drive.

  • Boat owner received second-degree burns to 15 percent of body
  • Neighbor says he saw man trying to extinguish flames with garden hose
  • 20-foot boat was on a lift

Neighbor Earl Eckles said he wasn't home when the fire started, but came home to find black smoke billowing behind his home. He said he went to his back yard and saw the man who lives two houses down trying to extinguish flames on the boat, which was on a lift, with a garden hose.

"He was on the boat. I mean, the smoke was intense. I know he was breathing that. I could feel the heat, and I was easily 25 feet away from it," Eckles said.

Eckles said he shouted to the man to back away, and his neighbor told him he was concerned because he had several gallons of fuel on board. Pasco Fire Rescue crews were able to quickly extinguish the flames when they arrived, according to Eckles.

"They came out with the water at first, and then they put the foam on the boat. They knocked it down, got it all taken care of. That was his baby. I really felt bad for him because he was always out there on that boat doing something," he said.

PCFR said the boat's owner has second degree burns over 15 percent of his body. His identity is not being released. There was no word on a cause as of Monday evening.