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Illinois hunting and fishing

Members of Peoria fire and water rescue work to put out a boat fire Tuesday night near the RiverPlex Recreation and Wellness Center. Photo by Zach Nelson/Peoria Journal Star.

Fire crews put out boat blaze on Illinois River

July 04, 2012 at 10:36 PM

Peoria Journal Star

PEORIA — Firefighters extinguished a boat fire Tuesday night on the Illinois River behind the RiverPlex Recreation and Wellness Center.

Crews from Peoria, East Peoria and the Fondulac Park District and the Coast Guard responded to the burning 16-foot open bow boat at about 8:45 p.m. The fire was contained by 9 p.m.

The occupants jumped from the vessel and were pulled from the water by another passenger boat. They were not injured, Peoria Fire Battalion Chief Jim Phelan said.

Phelan believes that the fire, which occurred about 200 yards from shore, was likely caused by a mechanical failure. Witnesses said the explosion sounded like a car back-firing.

“I just saw the smoke at first, and then a fire and flame ...,” said Tom Pickens, a Peorian who witnessed the beginning of the fire, “something burning at the front or the end, wherever it was burning, and it just kept getting bigger and bigger.”

Plumes of black smoke could be seen from more than a mile away.

Crews were working to pull the tangled mess of melted fiberglass from the water at 9:30 p.m.

The names of the people on the boat were unavailable late Tuesday.

Andrew Tredinnick can be reached at 686-3251 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow him on Twitter @tred_nation.

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