A fire injured three people in Bethel Sunday afternoon when the gas tank they were filling in their boat exploded. The boat was on a trailer at the North Star Gas station near Brown Slough Bridge. Bethel police, fire fighters, and medics responded to the emergency call which came in around 3 p.m.
38-year-old Julian Garcia, 19-year-old Brandon Billy, and a 13-year-old male juvenile were transported to the emergency room in Bethel and then flown out for further treatment. Two of them ended up at the Harborview Burn Center in Seattle and one is in Anchorage receiving care.
Garcia is one of the victims in Seattle. He said this morning from his hospital room that they had been getting fuel to go out on the river to pick berries. He doesn’t remember getting burned only waking up in the hospital. He says he’s doing okay but says that they “would really appreciate any prayers now”.
John Wagoner, General Manager of North Star Gas says, “it was a horrible accident” and that their hearts go out to the folks who were burned.
According to the Fire Department, Robert Hooper and other North Star Gas employees quickly responded by turning the fuel off to the pump, putting the fire out with dry chemical extinguishers, and calling 911.
The gas station was temporarily closed down for a few hours for safety reasons and the nearby road was blocked. North Star Gas was fully operational as of this morning.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated by the Bethel Fire Department but it is believed that it could have been triggered by static electricity. Static can occur when people use plastic funnels to fill tanks. In this case it was a water separating funnel.