UP IN SMOKE

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
Email Jackson Lavell-Lee
Brad Baker’s luxury 38 foot boat exploded in Geographe on Sunday
Camera IconBrad Baker’s luxury 38 foot boat exploded in Geographe on Sunday Credit: Jackson Lavell-Lee

An explosion on a boat in Geographe Bay on Sunday has resulted in Dunsborough local Brad Baker losing all his possessions after the 38-foot boat was destroyed.

The explosion happened about 9.45am near Wonnerup Beach as Mr Baker was cleaning the hull of the boat and his friend Chris Bignell was blown “five to 10 metres” overboard.

“Chris was on the boat and about to tell me he could smell petrol when it just blew,” he said. “It was the biggest explosion I’ve ever been near, the boat hit me on the head so I’m lucky to be alive,” he said.

Paramedics treated Mr Baker and Mr Bignell at the scene with both Busselton police and fire and rescue teams working to establish the cause of the fire which was believed to be a faulty fuel line.

Four appliances from Busselton Fire and Rescue attended the scene as well as about 100 cars.
Camera IconFour appliances from Busselton Fire and Rescue attended the scene as well as about 100 cars. Credit: Jackson Lavell-Lee

Mr Baker said the boat had been insured but he had priceless possessions including his father’s Fender guitar, licences and qualifications which he needed for work as a skipper because he was in the process of moving to Fremantle.

“I don’t want to think about it too much but I’d estimate about $40,000 worth of my stuff was on the boat. Some locals have been really helpful with buying me some new clothes as I had nothing left.”

Mr Baker said he had filled the boat’s fuel tanks with petrol in preparation to test sonar shark mitigation technology in the area, as a whale carcass at Wonnerup had drawn white sharks, but all drones and equipment had been destroyed in the fire.

Crowds gathered at the beach to watch the fire and thick black smoke as four appliances from the Busselton Fire and Rescue Service attended and got a local fisherman to help them transport a hose to the boat.

A crowd gathers to watch the boat burning as Brad and Chris are attended to by St John Ambulance volunteers
Camera IconA crowd gathers to watch the boat burning as Brad and Chris are attended to by St John Ambulance volunteers Credit: Jackson Lavell-Lee

Busselton resident David Barker said he was with his two children on the beach when the explosion happened.

“It was a massive explosion and it seemed to be quite an expensive cruise/leisure boat. Debris was strewn across the top of the water to the shore,” he said.

Mr Baker has set up a GoFundMe page to help him “rise from the ashes”. To donate, go to https://gf.me/u/y4s54z

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