Small boat explodes in Cortez marina, injuring one

In what’s normally a quiet marina, Annie’s Bait and Tackle shop owner Bruce Shearer saw a bit of commotion Monday afternoon after a small boat exploded while fueling.

Around 3 p.m., a small boat was getting fuel outside the bait and tackle shop near the Cortez Bridge.

Fumes from the fuel caused an explosion, injuring the one person on board and damaging the boat, according to Tom Sousa, chief of West Manatee Fire District.

When firefighters arrived, there were no flames; the fumes quickly burned off in the explosion, Sousa said. The Coast Guard was called to investigate the incident.

The boater suffered injuries to his legs and left hand, including first-degree burns, Sousa said. He was taken to Blake Medical Center as a trauma alert.

A small boat exploded at Annie’s Bait and Tackle in Cortez Monday afternoon when fumes ignited as the boater filled the gas tank. The boater was transported to the hospital with a hand and foot injury. Tiffany Tompkins ttompkins@bradenton.com

“He’s lucky he’s not dead,” Shearer said.

The explosion was a first for Shearer’s bait and tackle shop. Shearer said he watched it happen.

“There wasn’t much gas because it put itself out,” Shearer said.

He said he could go back to business as usual quickly after the incident, once the damaged boat was towed away.

The owner of the boat was at the scene but declined to comment.