Boat explosion rocks marina

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Sequim Gazette

Keith Bryant, injured when his boat exploded last week at John Wayne Marina, remains in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center.


Bryant, 78, was flown to Harborview following his transport to Olympic Medical Center on Jan. 30. A tenant of the marina since October 2011, Bryant suffered burns, back injuries and possible fractured bones in the explosion.


Investigators believe the explosion aboard Bryant’s boat, the Escale, was caused by a propane tank, Sequim Police Sgt. Sean Madison said.


Salvage crews recovered the sunken hull of the 38-foot boat from John Wayne Marina on Thursday afternoon, two days after the craft exploded.


Residents from Sequim Bay to Sunland heard the boom Tuesday night when the boat blew up.


Two people on a neighboring boat were knocked off their feet by the blast but rushed to pull Bryant from the wreckage of his sinking boat as paramedics arrived on the scene.


Patrick Young, fire district public information officer, said Clallam County Fire District 3 reported to “C” dock at the marina at 5:48 p.m. to discover the boat had exploded from an undetermined source while the owner was onboard.


Young said the explosion had such force that boats within 75 yards received varying degrees of damage.


Holly Hairell, Port of Port Angeles public relations manager, said the port is aware of at least two boats that were taken away to dry dock for repairs after sustaining damage from the explosion.

Coming to Bryant’s aid

Two slips down, Clifford and Julie Houser, who rescued Bryant from the wreckage, sustained substantial damage to their boat with a large number of windows broken out, Young said.


Hairell said a man named James Conachen also helped rescue Bryant.


“While accidents of this nature happen, we cannot thank heroes like Mr. and Mrs. Houser and Mr. Conachen enough,” said Jeff Robb, Port of Port Angeles executive director. “With their selfless actions and the aid provided by countless individuals and agencies, we are all able to turn a tragic accident into a learning opportunity for all parties involved.”


The smell of gasoline was strong even hours after the explosion as port employees absorbed oil from the water with special cloths. Pillows, cushions, a table and a door were among the flotsam on the surface of the marina waters.


The fire district’s fire boat worked to contain spilled fuels and oils from the sunken boat as the Port of Port Angeles, the U.S. Coast Guard and other spill response agencies joined in the effort, Young said.


Coast Guard Petty Officer Nathan Bradshaw said the Port Angeles base provided a flyover of the scene to determine the size of the contamination. The Coast Guard and Department of Ecology coordinated and supervised the clean-up efforts Wednesday and Thursday.


The critical and emergency clean-up operations are finished, Hairell said. While there will be clean-up costs for the port, the amount is unknown at this time. There was minor damage to port property in the blast, she said.



Reach Amanda Winters at
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