Boat Fire

Smoke and flames are seen just beyond the Historic Seaport as a boat burns out of control Saturday morning. The boat’s owner, Ted Bautista, said he lost everything, including his beloved animals.

A fast-spreading boat fire in the City of Key West’s mooring field on Saturday destroyed all of the possessions of Ted Bautista and Austin Iwohara, killed their five birds and a cat and left the pair homeless.

An electrical fire broke out on the “Tedtanic” about 7 a.m. Saturday in the lower levels of the four-story boat. The fire quickly engulfed the older motor yacht, despite Bautista’s best efforts to extinguish the blaze with a fire extinguisher.

Within minutes, the boat was engulfed and Bautista and Iwohara fled to the bow of the boat, Bautista said. Bautista and Iwohara would eventually be rescued and the fire extinguished.

However, the boat sank, destroying their home, taking their belongings and killing their pets. Trapped on the boat were the ashes of Iwohara’s recently deceased father, Bautista said.

“That’s what hurts the worst,” Bautista said.

Bautista had lived on the boat for the past three years, he said. He is now living in his van and Iwohara is staying with a friend, Bautista said.

A Facebook page has been set up to take donations and help the pair get back on their feet again. The page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/donate/480630963072599/ 1348437408872644/.

The boat had long been a gathering place for members of the Key West live-board community. The boat hosted annual Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners. Bautista often allowed homeless people to stay aboard the large vessel. He had only one rule: No alcohol or drugs on the boat, he said.

“It was a dry boat,” he said.