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UPDATED: Nevis firefighter injured responding to boat fire

Resort guest Missy Lacoursiere captured this photo of a speed boat that caught fire on Lake Belle Taine Monday.

A Nevis firefighter was taken to the Park Rapids hospital when he was injured responding to a boat inferno on Lake Belle Taine Monday noon.

Ron Leyba was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph's Area Health Services with a shoulder injury. He fell down a steep hill near Beauty Bay Lodge, according to firefighters on the scene. The boat was quickly extinguished as firefighters helped their fallen colleague.

Fire Chief Kerry Swenson said Leyba suffered a broken clavicle and will be taped for several weeks.

"It's the first injury to a firefighter in a long time," the chief said Tuesday.

Resort owner Tim Meyer said he'd just finished filling the fiberglass inboard boat with gas.

"He backed out and the motor cover blew out," Meyer said.

The four boat occupants were unable to reach the fire extinguisher on board, which was near the engine, so Meyer and wife Jennie urged them to jump and swim to shore.

They jumped. And swam.

"We called 911 and watched 'er float," Tim Meyer said. They'd drifted too far for him to grab the resort's extinguisher, he added.

As the boat drifted northward, "it was engulfed an less than a minute," Meyer said.

"How it didn't blow I don't know," said Tim's dad, Chuck Meyer, who was mowing the lawn at the time. "You see a burning boat like that and your first thought is, 'I hope everybody got out,'" Chuck Meyer said. "It just backfired."

No one on board the boat was injured.

Hubbard County dispatchers were swamped with 911 calls about the burning boat.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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