Boat fire victims search for cause of explosion

On a partly cloudy day like today, many people at Barber Marina are busy sprucing up their boats before springtime weather arrives. But Mike Basco and his sons can’t join in the spring preparations. Instead, they’re digging through what’s left of their boat, looking for the cause of so much destruction.

“We’re going to lift the deck where we can see the tanks and see if there was anything obvious like a crack in the top of a tank, a bad well or something like that. As far as the rubber hoses, they’re already charred,” Basco said.

Basco and his 14-year-old son, Brian, were in the cabin of his 1968 Concord when it ignited Monday, February 24. The incident sent the pair to USA Medical Center’s burn unit. Basco needed a skin graft on his left hand because of the severity of the burns.

“When Brian and I were sitting at the table, you’ve seen him, and I’m looking at that little face on him and we felt the explosion, the concussion and we’re engulfed in flames, and I’m looking at the little face on that kid, that was bad,” Basco said.

“Neither one of us knew what was happening until we got out of the boat and actually sat there and thought about it and looked at what was happening,” Brian recalls. “Then we knew what was happening. But right at the moment, there was no telling what was going on.”

One of Basco’s other sons, Christopher, works in salvaging and is helping his dad and brother in trying to find the cause of the explosion and fire. Step one: draining it.

“(We’re) getting all the water out and then just…it’s a long process, cutting it up. It’s a thick boat so it’s got a lot. There’s a lot to be cut up,” Christopher said.

As they work, questions still linger for Basco.

“How did the vapors get from the rear tanks all the way up to the center of the cabin underneath the floor? . We don’t know. I doubt if we’ll ever know,” he said.

But even if those answers never come, Basco said it’s important for them to move on with their heads high.

“I’ve never been one to sit around and bawl about bad circumstances. Get through it and get on. That’s all you can do, man,” he said.

“You can cry about it, but there’s tons of boats out there. Ton’s of ‘em,” Brian adds.

The family is now in the process of searching for another boat to call home. In  the meantime, they are living with their relatives. Basco said they enjoyed the process of fixing up their old boat and look forward to doing it again as a family.

If you would like to help the family, click here.

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