Bill Rosiek is happy to be alive after his boat caught fire and exploded in North Bentinck just over two weeks ago.
Rosiek, a longtime fisherman in the area from Maple Ridge, was alone aboard his boat, the ‘Pacific Avenger,’ about six kilometers west of the Bella Coola wharf when he smelt smoke at about 5am on the morning of July 15.
Realizing he had a fire in the engine room, Rosiek attempted to put on the flames by emptying two fire extinguishers on to the blaze. Unfortunately, this did nothing to quell the fire and it began to spread.
Rosiek went on deck where he was assisted by Jim and Linda McVeigh on the Silver Mate. Risking their own safety, the McVeigh’s pulled up next to the Pacific Avenger and got Rosiek safely aboard their vessel. Minutes later the propane tank caught fire and exploded, demolishing the boat and sinking it. As fellow fisherman Brian Lande explained, “It sunk so fast it never even left a slick. Everything blew up before she went down.”
Lande, who has fished in the area for over 50 years, lamented the poor communication system that fisherman have to put up with while fishing in the inlets, but commended the work of Kim Olsen, who coordinated the rescue.
“Kim did an excellent job,” said Lande. “However, we still face major challenges with communications for marine operations in the inlets. It’s not a good situation.”
As for Rosiek, he lost everything but is ‘still laughing’ according to Lande.