May 30, 2012 | LXXII, No. 9

Boat burns, sinks on Lake Roosevelt

Three guys boating near Spring Canyon rescued a woman whose boat caught fire in front of them Sunday night.

The boat Kim Simons had to leave burning in the middle of the lake. George Kelley photo

Kim Simons, of Bremerton, and her husband Jeff had just launched their 23-foot Warlock boat from the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area boat launch at Spring Canyon.

Kim took the boat for a quick spin while Jeff parked the trailer and walked back to the dock. He was chatting with someone on the dock, he said, “and they said, ‘Hey, your boat’s on fire.’ ”

Jeff and Randy Semanko, brothers who both work for the Bureau of Reclamation locally, and friend George Kelley, visiting from Montesano, Wash., were heading for the dock in their boat, about 200 yards from Simons as she headed back to pick up her husband.

Kelley said when they looked back after passing her, she began to wave her arms, so they circled back, then saw smoke.

Simons lifted the inboard engine cover and emptied a fire extinguisher on the flames. Kelley said they emptied theirs too, but there was no stopping the blaze.

They got Kim Simons off the burning boat, which she was reluctant to give up on, Randy Semanko said. It was her pride and joy.

“I’m just glad everybody’s alright,” Jeff Simons said about an hour later, his boat still burning in the middle of the lake. “We can buy another boat ...”

He said he had no idea what caused the fire.

The boat sank to the bottom just as a Bureau of Reclamation utility boat was launched to try to tow it in.

The incident could easily have been much worse.

“Remember that hypothermia takes place rapidly in cold water,” a park press release warned May 10. “A sudden plunge into cold water can cause disorientation and respiration problems.You will rapidly begin to lose control of your arms and legs as the effects of hypothermia take place. Even good swimmers will not last long in these conditions.”

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