Man who survived Richmond Yacht Basin fire: It was a miracle

Posted at 8:14 PM, Dec 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-09 20:14:25-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- A man who survived a massive fire at the Richmond Yacht Basin rushed to warn his neighbor Friday morning after he was awakened by a loud noise.

"It sounded like a popping and banging," Dave Hughes said.

When Hughes walked outside and saw the boat he lived on was ablaze, he took action.

"I immediately knocked on my neighbor's door. David Napier, my good friend. I got him out safely… yelled, 'Fire,'" Hughes said.

Dave Hughes had been living on this boat for three years.

Dave Hughes had been living on this boat for three years.

Napier, who was also asleep at the time, said everything happened so fast.

"The fire jumped probably 100 feet in 30 seconds," Napier said.

As the fire quickly spread, Napier raced to get the pair out of the marina in his 1974 Trauler.

"I went up, started the boat, came down, untied two lines [and] went back up to put the boat in gear," Napier explained. "At that point, it had started to melt the swim noodles we use and it was burning my back. So, we got out just in time. It was right over top on my head."

Richmond Yacht Basin

Richmond Yacht Basin

Hughes said the only other way out would have been for him to jump into the water.

A WTVR CBS 6 crew captured video of Napier escaping the flames and heading upstream.

"We would've been dead. It was just a miracle," Napier said.

Napier owned the second boat Hughes was living that was destroyed in the catastrophic fire.

But both survivors said it was an early Christmas miracle for them.

Richmond Yacht Basin

Richmond Yacht Basin

"I've lost all of my possessions and that's not even on my mind. What's on my mind is both of us are safe," said Hughes.

Henrico Fire spokesman Capt. Taylor Goodman said 12 to 15 boats and a boat shed were damaged in the blaze.

Officials said it could take investigators several days to determine the cause of the blaze.

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