HUDSON, Wisc. - There are times in Hudson Wisconsin where traffic on the river rivals the traffic on main street.
“On any given weekend we’ve got about a hundred anchors out here,” Mayor Rich O’Connor says.
O’Connor’s boat was among them Friday night when he and a few friends were out on the river.
"We were just going under the bridge when the explosion happened. We saw the smoke almost immediately," O’Connor says.
Hudson police say a boat caught fire just as its owner was launching it into the river Friday night.
They say the owner instinctively kicked the boat into the river when he heard a loud banging noise coming from the engine.
Officials say the boat burst into flames only a few seconds later.
Hudson firefighters arrived within minutes, but all they could do was sit and wait.
"We do not have our own pumper boat that can actually pump water on to put out a fire here in Hudson," O’Connor says.
The city typically relies on Stillwater firefighters to help them out in situations like this, but O’Connor says it took them nearly 40 minutes to get there.
“Through no fault of their own. Its quite a ways to get down the river here,” O’Connor explains. “We really should have a pumper boat of our own.”
He and the city’s fire chief have been pushing to buy a pumper boat for about a year now.
A fully-equipped pumper boat would cost the city about $80,000, O’Connor says.
The only boat the fire department has is a 12-foot inflatable boat they use for water rescues, but firefighters say it’s too small and light to carry enough water to put out a fire.
While no one was hurt in this case, and no other boats were damaged, O’Connor says the fire would have ended much differently if it had started near the marina.
"I had a boat back in 1988 that got caught in a fire here in the marina. It was another boat that blew up when he started his engine and there were two of us that got caught in that fire,” O’Connor says.
Up until now O'Connor says buying a boat has been a tough sell among others in the community, but he’s hoping this close call will finally make his case.
"Things like that have to happen before people really step up and say okay I get it, we really need to be doing something about this."
The cause of this latest fire is still under investigation.