11-Year-old dies in Florida boat fire

STUART, Fla. (WPTV) -- An 11-year-old boy with autism died in a boat fire Sunday in Stuart, Florida, according to Stuart Police.


The fire started shortly after 10 a.m.


Stuart Police said the fire set off a secondary propane tank explosion.


When police arrived the heat was so intense no one could board, police said.


A sergeant aboard a dock master’s boat was able to rescue Brian Birely and Karen Laake who were able to make it into a small dinghy, according to police.


They told investigators that they tried but were unable to rescue their son, Charlie Birely.


The parents were transported to Miami to be treated for their injuries.


People who live on the water say they would see the boat frequently cruise the area.


Neighbor Frank Pagnini said he knows the people who were on that boat and could see it burning from his backyard.


He says he ran out of his house when he heard there was a fire and that’s when a propane tank exploded. 


He says feared that others could have been hurt from the explosion.


"Thrown debris a good distance probably. A full size propane tank exploding, people heard it down at the park," said Pagnini. "It was fully engulfed, front to back, the mast had already melted off."


Stuart Police, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, Stuart Fire Rescue, Martin County Fire Rescue, the State Fire Marshal, the Medical Examiner’s Office, and the State Attorney’s Office are all investigating the case.

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