Victim describes boat fire, explosion

Bart Lopresti injured in boat fire on Las Olas Isles

Published On: May 01 2013 04:03:23 PM EDT   Updated On: May 01 2013 11:22:19 AM EDT
Bart Lopresti
MIAMI -

Boats on fire near Fort Lauderdale

From his Jackson Memorial Hospital bed Tuesday, a 50-year-old man who suffered second and third-degree burns when his boat caught fire described the explosion that ignited the blaze.

On April 24, Bart Lopresti woke up to the smell of fuel while onboard the Chico Malo, his 40-foot Mainship Motor Yacht. Lopresti told firefighters the odor became stronger when he went below deck.

He turned on the blige pump, which appeared to ignite the flames, according to the Fort Lauderdale Fire Marshal's office.

"It totally exploded right in front of me," he said. "It lifted up every floorboard. It lifted up the sofa, the kitchen cabinets, the countertops. It blew out all the windows in the boat."

Lopresti used his hands to put on the flames on his pants.

"There's no reason why I didn't get blown apart in that engine room. Everything around me and above me was," he said. "As we were walking past the salon, the flames were just starting to come up. "As we stepped off the boat, they were pretty much engulfing the boat."

"I was thinking he was dead, and then I saw him walking around and I was like, 'Oh my God, he's alive,'" said Fabiola Agudelo, Lopresti's girlfriend.

The fire spread to 38-foot Hunter sailboat. Both boats were destroyed.

Lopresti said he considers himself lucky that Agudelo and his 4-year-old son weren't injured.

"The pain that I was going through -- and it's getting better now, much better -- but I could never imagine my son going through a quarter of that, let alone her," he said. "That's why I think I'm a very lucky man, very lucky man."