Boating Horror Stories

Every year, an estimated 4,000 pleasure vessels fall victim to either fire or explosion. 

Of this number approximately 400 are either a total loss or are extremely costly to rebuild.

Blaze Hits 8 Boats on Lake Norman

Blaze hits Lake Norman and other boating horror stories… According to several reports, eight boats were involved in the fire. Four boats suffered major damage, according to fire officials at the scene.

There are several reports that one boat sank. Fire investigators say they will question boat owners, in an effort to determine how the blaze might have started. One possibility being mentioned this morning is that a boat owner might have left a heater operating on a craft overnight.

Source: Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC)

Portable Electric Heater identified as heat source in a Multi-boat Fire 

A fire that started by a portable electric heater on a boat docked in a covered marina spread to several other boats, fanned by high winds that impeded fire ground operations. The boats were moored at a wooden dock that had a wood frame and a metal roof overhang. The boat on which the fire started was at the end of a dock, several slips of which were occupied by other boats. The marina had no detection or sprinkler system and was closed for the night when the fire broke out

Although a portable heater was identified as the heat source for the unintentional fire, the exact cause and the ignition sequence was unknown, The flames spread to the boat’s interior and from there, to the roof overhang and several other boats before firefighters arrived.

Cautionary Tales from Other Boat Owners:

My next door neighbor put a small electric space heater on his boat (an Islander 32) and set it to its lowest setting. As the weather got colder the heater cycled on-off until the extension cord melted and set the boat on fire. The fire gutted the entire inside of the boat until another neighbor saw the smoke and put the fire out. The boat was a total loss. It was 5 feet from my boat in the next slip. My neighbor scares me.


I used to use a light bulb in the winter until the cheapo housing slipped and the whole light came to rest on my holding tank. It was kind of scary to see the burnt marks in the ABS where the plastic had smoldered. I have no idea why the boat did not burn down. The plastic had obviously burned in places. You could not pay me to put a light bulb in my engine compartment now. They were not made for boats and are just too risky.”


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