FORT LAUDERDALE ( – Two people in Fort Lauderdale were injured when the boat they were working on exploded into flames Friday morning.

According to Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue, the 27-foot-long boat was docked at 2685 Key Largo Lane when the fire erupted.

“It was a large concussion,” said neighbor Drew Carroll. “I have all impact windows and doors in my house and it still rattled the house.”

The couple working on the boat, Rusk and Jackie Zumwalt, were trying to deal with the bilge pump when the explosion happened.

The bilge pump takes water out of the boat and helps keep it from sinking. Gas can mix with the water in the bilge, which can lead to a build-up of fumes.

Rusk jumped into the water after being engulfed in flames. That was when another boater came to his aid.

“I just grabbed him by his arms and pulled him out of the water,” said Andrew, who didn’t give his last name. “I set him in a chair got a garden hose and just kept him wet until paramedics got there.”

Rusk was believed to have suffered serious burns on his head, face, and arms; part of his hair was burned off too. Jackie was believed to be in shock and possibly could have burns as well.

Investigators are trying to determine what caused the blast on the boat.

But for the couple, especially Rusk, they were lucky Andrew was passing by at the time.

“Unfortunately, last week in the Bahamas we saw the same thing happen,” Andrew said. “I don’t know, maybe something good comes out of it.


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