Yacht mechanic dies after blast sparked by torch

March 24, 2002|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

A mechanic using a welding torch to replace the fuel tank on a yacht on Kent Island touched off an explosion yesterday that blew him 15 feet through the air, killing him and severely injuring a co-worker.

Three large powerboats on blocks near the water also burned at the Kentmorr Harbour Marina. But a fireboat, 12 trucks and about 60 firefighters halted the blaze before it could spread, said Chief Bob Carter of the United Community Volunteer Fire Department.

"The boats are stacked up real tight, and we were fortunate to have stopped the fire before it became a whole lot worse," Carter said.

Dennis Wayne Silfies, 33, of Pasadena died after cardiopulmonary resuscitation efforts failed, officials said.

An unidentified co-worker, who was helping with the project in the Brickhouse Yacht Yards inside the marina, suffered broken bones and was flown by helicopter to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, officials said.

The explosion occurred about 2:20 p.m. as Silfies was changing the fuel tank on the yacht. Apparently, the tank still had some fumes or fuel in it when Silfies applied a torch, officials said.

Silfies had recently repaired the fireboat that tried to save him. "He was an excellent mechanic," Carter said. "He just made a big-time mistake."

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