ST. PETERSBURG — There was smoke, then flames, then screams.
Then Lori Watts heard the 56-foot wooden pilot boat explode. "It was like, pow!" said Watts, whose trawler was berthed next to the exploding boat.
By land and by water, St. Petersburg Fire Rescue and the Coast Guard battled the boat fire Monday in a Demens Landing marina to keep it from spreading to nearby vessels.
The fire was reported at 1:48 p.m. and was brought under control about 5 p.m.
Smoke wafted over nearby Albert Whitted Airport and the skies downtown. When firefighters finally managed to get on board, they cut holes in the top deck and shot foam down below.
The Aloma II is the home of Betty and William Sattler, according to Fire Rescue officials. The couple weren't aboard when the fire broke out. They could not be reached for comment. The cause of the fire was unknown Monday.
"We'll go back over there when the scene is cold and do our investigation," said St. Petersburg Fire Rescue Lt. Joel Granata.
The screams Watts heard were from other boat owners who spotted the fire on Dock 4.
Fire rescue officials said the small explosion likely occurred when the fire blew up the propane tank and shot debris into the water.