Couple Loses New Boat and Trade-in to Fire

The only thing worse than losing your new boat to a fire is losing both your new boat and old boat in the same fire. May this couple’s luck change quickly.

Orthopedic surgeon Hugo Keim and his wife, Alicia, were looking forward to cruising Tampa Bay in their new 44-foot yacht the weekend of June 18. But that Friday morning, Keim got a call that put a major kink in their weekend plans.

Brett McGill, a regional president of MarineMax boat retailer, called Keim about 7:30 a.m. He said there was a tragedy late Thursday in the boatyard on U.S. 19. The couple’s brand new Meridian 441 Sedan Bridge yacht, and the 39-foot yacht they traded in, were destroyed in a fiery explosion.

“We’re pretty miserable,” said Keim, 77, who lives in Odessa. “We were supposed to pick up the boat Saturday.”

Fire officials estimated damages at $1 million. They said the fire doesn’t appear to be suspicious, and the cause may have been electrical or mechanical.

About 11 p.m. Thursday, blasts rattled the neighborhood near MarineMax.

Cari Smithson and her husband were relaxing in bed when an explosion shook the windows of their second-story waterfront condo. Their daughters ran into the bedroom screaming as flashes of orange and yellow flickered behind the window blinds.

Smithson pulled open the blinds, grabbed her phone and called 911. Her family huddled near the window as a fire engulfed a yacht in a boat slip 100 yards from their home. A second blast echoed as they watched another boat go up in flames.

MarineMax is in Largo near Belleair Road, just south of the Clearwater border. The waterway where the boats were docked links Allen’s Creek to Tampa Bay.

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