HARTLAND — Christopher Gibson was ready to board a fellow boater who had run out of fuel Wednesday in the middle of Morrill Pond when his family’s Fourth of July fun suddenly burst into flames.

Gibson, 43, of Acworth, Georgia, and seven other people — all under the age of 16 — were rescued Wednesday after Gibson’s 18-foot 1997 Rinker motorboat caught fire and burned right to the water line.

“I said ‘hop on’ and just as I said that — boom — as soon as I said ‘get in,’ that’s when it happened,” Gibson said Thursday from their waterside camp that has been in his wife’s family for generations. “It like — I don’t know— backfired, back drafted, or something and the floor vent had flames coming out of it. That’s where my son was sitting and he has a little burn on his foot.

Ty Gibson, 15, who was on the boat, estimated the fuel tank was about half full when the fire ignited. He shouted “Fire” and then jumped off the boat. Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife photo

“I got everybody off the boat. There were a bunch of boats. I was making sure they got to someone’s boat so they could get to safety, then I jumped off.”

Gibson said he first opened the hatch at the rear of the boat and saw flames in the engine compartment, but it was already past saving. He said the boat was an older model, but had been retrofitted recently with a new engine, new interior and stereo system.

“It was fun,” said Gibson, noting that they were fully insured and no one was injured.

Meanwhile, Gibson’s wife, Crissy, seeing the fire from shore and hearing the shouts from across the lake, climbed onto the family’s jet ski and throttled it out fast to where everyone was in the water.

“I was just hanging out watching the kids tube and as soon as they yelled there was a fire, I jumped on the jet ski and got out there,” she said. “I saw all the kids in the water with my husband and the boat on fire. I grabbed two of the boys onto the jet ski.”

Here at MaineToday Media we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion.

To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use. Click here to flag and report a comment that violates our terms of use.