Couple escape from fire on boat in Beccles

A couple from Suffolk say they are lucky to be alive after their boat exploded at a river quayside.

The engine of Tony and Alison Tibbitt's boat caught fire shortly after they set off from Beccles Quay on Sunday.

Mrs Tibbitt jumped into the water and swam to the bank while her husband stayed onboard until he was rescued.

She said: "It was a very frightening afternoon. I ended up in the water and it was a toss up between drowning and burning to death I thought."

Two fire crews attended the scene. The boat sank after catching fire.

The couple, from Carlton Colville near Lowestoft, had been planning to travel to a place further down the river for a picnic when the incident happened.

Mr Tibbitt said he had just put 20 litres of petrol into the fuel tank ahead of the journey.

He said: "We removed the ropes from the quay and started the engine, moved out about 25 yards (22.8 m) and there was a terrific bang.

"I looked round and where the seat and cover over the engine was, there was a solid mass of flames."

His wife added: "It all happened so quickly and there was fire in more than one place - the engine and the cabin as well.

"As soon as I realised I was getting burnt I was over the side as quickly as possible.

"It was an old boat but the proper inspections had been done. We still have no idea as to how it happened."

Suffolk Fire Service said vapour ignition caused the fire.

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