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Family escapes after boat catches fire on pond in Hartland

It was a scare for a family on vacation from Georgia, when their boat caught fire on Hartland Pond. (Maine Warden Service)

HARTLAND (WGME) – It was a scare for a family on vacation from Georgia, when their boat caught fire on a pond in Hartland.

Chris Gibson was out on Morrill Pond, with his three teenage sons and four of their friends, taking turns tubing on the back of his ski boat, when they stopped to help a stranded boater.

"We stopped to help someone who ran out of gas," Sean Gibson said.

"And once my dad said hop on, then he put it in reverse and I heard a boom," Ty Gibson said.

"Then we had flames coming out the floor," Chris Gibson said.

"And so I screamed ‘Fire!’” Ty Gibson said. “And then I told everybody to get off and I jump off."

"And everyone just jumped off the boat,” Sean Gibson said. “Swam to another boat to take us to shore."

"Everyone was just trying to get off the boat as soon as possible," Luke Gibson said. “It was all over the place. Mostly in the back by the engine spot, though."

Not much is left of the boat. Chris Gibson thinks the boom everyone heard was the engine backfiring.

"It backfired and caused some kind of explosion with some gases," Chris Gibson said.

Chris Gibson says the engine cover blew off after the explosion. He believes that is where the fire started, right in the engine.

"We did what we could to get away from it,” Chris Gibson said. “Thought it was going to explode. It was full of fuel."

He says other boaters helped get him and all the kids to shore.

"They all took care of the kids," Chris Gibson said.

The only injury was a burn blister on his son Sean's foot.

"I just felt like a burning pain on my foot,” Sean Gibson said. “So I jumped in the water."

Chris Gibson says everyone had a life jacket on, something he insists on, in case of emergencies just like this.

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