Dramatic moment whale-watching boat bursts into flames
A BOAT has caught fire off the coast of Main Beach while being used for a whale-watching trip.
Firefighters, water police and ambulance crews received reports of the blaze just before 9.30am.
Thick, black smoke was seen coming from the boat.
Eight people who were on board the boat were rescued and brought safely back to shore by police.
By 10.40am they were being treated by paramedics at Main Beach.
#Update - All patients are now back on shore with nil serious injuries. The eight people onboard the vessel evacuated into another boat.— Queensland Ambulance (@QldAmbulance) August 7, 2019
The boat was owned by Gold Coast locals who were taking friends from Germany out to view whales.
Those on board were aged between 13 and 78 years old.
"About 8am this morning we had a private recreational vessel leave Southport," he said.
"They've gone about four and a half miles offshore, simply whale watching amongst a group of friends.
"At that time the skipper has heard a bang, has gone down into the engine room to inspect the cause of that bang.
"He's opened up the switchboard and immediately it combusted and a fire has broken out.
"He has got everyone together onto the tender and from there has made a distress call and emergency services have responded to it.
"They were all safe and well. Fortunately, this is a good news story, I guess. No injuries at all. In quite good spirits actually.
"We've got a couple of locals who own the boat and they had friends over from Germany and we're taking them out to see the whales.
"(They're aged) from 13 to 78. There was eight people on board at the time.
"The boat was a 19m catamaran. The boat has actually sunk now and was unable to be salvaged by firefighters.
"It will just stay there now. The depths of water it's in, it's not going to be salvageable.
"An incident like this we simply investigate and determine the cause. Since we're not able to recover the vessel we may not be able to establish that cause.
"Initial inquires lead us to believe it might be something electrical."
Boatie Bec Krojs said she was out on the water at the time and her boat had prepared to assist after passengers spotted the thick, black plumes of smoke.
"The 8 people were then all in their tender, safe and wearing life jackets," she said.
"It was a family. They said an electrical issue sparked the fire.
"The smoke got thicker and blacker, and eventually the entire vessel was engulfed in flames. It was probably 30 minutes all up then what was left of it sunk."
A Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) Queensland spokeswoman said they had also responded to the scene and kept passing boats at a distance while the smouldering wreck sank.
Calls had been made to VMR from across the Coast with the heavy smoke visible for kilometres.