Canal blast tragedy for boatman, 66

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A MAN has been burned, and his dog killed, after his houseboat blew up and then sank in a South Yorkshire canal yesterday.

The 66-year-old boat owner managed to get to the bank, but was beaten back by flames when he tried to go back on board in a vain attempt to rescue his pet.

The incident, on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal, was reported at 4.30am when flames were seen shooting from the 15-foot cabin cruiser at Bramwith Lock, Doncaster.

When firefighters from Thorne station arrived they could see a boat was engulfed in flames, but there was little they could do because the boat, believed to be constructed of fibreglass, was so well alight. Shortly after they arrived it sank.

Yesterday a charred life ring and the top of the boat was all that could be seen above the surface of the canal.

It is believed the explosion occurred because gas had been leaking from a canister during the night, and it was ignited when the boat owner lit a cigarette.

The dog perished in the fire and went down with the boat.

Police said the man, who has not been named, was taken to hospital to be treated for burns to his face, hands and feet.

He was detained in hospital but details of his condition have not been disclosed.

A spokesman for the Canals and Rivers Trust said last night: “There is not an awful lot of the boat left.”