Four people were rescued from the water of Santa Monica Bay after the boat they were on caught fire Saturday afternoon, July 24th.
Boat owner Steve Toth, his son Steve and two friends, Eddie Hargitay and Spiro Zafirov, were pulled out of the water about a half-mile off Dockweiler State Beach, adjacent to Vista del Mar in Playa del Rey, about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, July 24th.
The damaged boat, a 38-foot 1979 Bertram yacht, was returning to the Marina from San Pedro.
Toth’s son and Hargitay were on the flag bridge and his father and Zafirov were sleeping in the cabin.
The father woke up when he felt his feet getting hot and discovered a fire had started behind a couch, with flames shooting out, according to Harbor Patrol Detective Estevan Martinez, who was on a Harbor Patrol boat with Deputy Richard Laughon that responded to the fire.
“The father ran up on deck, yelling, ‘Fire, stop the boat,’ grabbing a fire extinguisher,” Martinez said.
His son had the presence of mind to switch on the halon system, which removes oxygen from the fire area, said Martinez.
The son opened a compartment beneath the helm to get a fire extinguisher, but flames came pouring out, forcing him to close the compartment, Martinez said.
The father ran below to tell Zafirov to go up on the flag bridge and attempted to reach the lifejackets, but the fire was already too strong.
All four jumped into the water, spending approximately ten minutes before being rescued, three by the Harbor Patrol and the fourth by a passing sailboat, Martinez said.
The whole incident took about two minutes, said Martinez, and fortunately the Harbor Patrol boat was fairly close when the fire broke out. Martinez alleged that there were no injuries.
The Los Angeles County lifeguard fire boat also was on hand to extinguish the fire.
The boat owner told Martinez that he had recently had major engine and electrical work done on the boat.
Martinez alleged that the boat, valued at approximately $140,000, was a total loss.