Image: Paramedics treat a 78-year-old man in the debris following a boat explosion in Sequim, Wash.
Patrick Young  /  AP
Paramedics treat a 78-year-old man in the debris following a boat explosion in Sequim, Wash., in this photograph provided by Clallam County Fire District No. 3.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 2/1/2012 3:16:04 AM ET 2012-02-01T08:16:04

A 40-foot boat exploded at a marina on Washington's Olympic Peninsula Tuesday evening, breaking windows, inflicting shrapnel-type damage on other nearby vessels and seriously injuring a 78-year-old man, firefighters said.

The force of the blast sank the boat, briefly trapping the lone occupant in the hull in the water, Clallam County Fire District No. 3 spokesman Patrick Young said.

Clifford and Julie Houser, who were on a nearby boat, were knocked off their feet by the blast, according to the Sequim Gazette.

Their boat sustained substantial damage, the paper said.

It added that the couple helped the injured man out after finding him covered in debris and in water inside his boat.

Burns, fractures
The man is believed to have lived on the boat, Young said.

Medics said he suffered burns and fractures. He was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, a police dispatcher said. He wasn't immediately identified.

Young said he didn't know exactly how many other boats were damaged along the slip at the John Wayne Marina in the town of Sequim.

But he said boats as far away as 75 yards received damage.

The Coast Guard and police are investigating the cause of the explosion.

Spill response crews worked to mop up an undetermined amount of fuel from the shattered boat.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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