BETHEL ISLAND (CBS SF) — A boat fire that engulfed the vessel in flames and took the life of a Bethel Island man was ignited by a space heater, authorities announced Tuesday.
East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Fire crews responded to calls of a boat on fire at the marina in the 400 block of Riverview Place just after 10:00 p.m. on February 7.READ MORE: Pandemic-Inspired Art Greets Visitors to Newly-Reopened San Francisco Museums
“Responding crews had a fully involved boat fire upon arrival and quickly began to extinguish the fire,” said Fire Marshal Steve Aubert. “After extinguishment, the vessel submerged at 1:30 A.M. on February 8.”
The owner of the 30-foot cabin cruiser — 56-year-old Douglas Hiles — lived aboard the boat and couldn’t be accounted for in the heavy fire damage.READ MORE: East Bay Entrepreneurs Eager for Red Tier Easing to Boost Business
With the help of the Contra Costa County Sherriff’s Office, the vessel was salvaged and raised on February 10 and Hiles’ body was recovered.
Contra Costa County Coroner’s Office has ruled that Hiles died due to smoke inhalation.
Upon further investigation, fire officials believe the origin and cause of the fire was the improper use of a portable space heater.MORE NEWS: UC Researchers Find North Coast Kelp Forest Nearly Wiped Out
“While the weather can be cold during this time of year, portable space heaters have very specific manufacture’s specifications for use,” Aubert said. “These typically call for clearance requirements and safety protocols to safely operate one of these devices.”