Man risks life to save two bulldogs, jumps from burning yacht

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Friday, October 4, 2019
Washington man saves dogs, jumps off burning yacht
Washington man saves dogs, jumps off burning yacht

BREMERTON, Washington (WPVI) -- A Washington couple is trying to figure out what to do after a yacht they lived on sank in a fire.

Mike Babbitt risked his own life to save his two dogs and keep the fire from spreading to other boats.

Babbitt has been tested many times, but this yacht fire was something else. He was leaving his slip at the Bremerton Yacht Club to fuel up when his boat started smoking. He didn't have much time to react.

"It's overwhelming that we have to start from scratch," Mike told KOMO-TV.

"And that's probably as close to a punch in the gut as I've ever had," said Mike's wife, Jamie Babbitt.

Last Friday, smoke from the engine compartment quickly turned into a big orange ball.

"And I can tell right away that it was just more than I was gonna be able to do with an extinguisher," said Mike.

Mike's first instinct was to move the burning boat out into the middle of the bay so the fire wouldn't spread.

"The wind was blowing from the north. That would have blown the boat back into the yacht club. So I just gave it all the power I could to get it away from the yacht club," said Mike.

Then, he went to task saving his bulldogs, Hootie and Pearl. He put the 70 and 60 pound dogs on a paddleboard before jumping into the water.

"I didn't even grab my own vest, I just slid into the water and started paddling away from the fire and I could still feel the heat from the fire," said Mike.

Some friends rescued Mike and the dogs. He was then taken to the hospital, where Jamie met him.

"As I was driving from the freeway, I could see the smoke. It suddenly became very, very real," said Mike.

Fighting for survival is part of Mike's life. He's a retired Boise City police detective.

He was also embedded with the Army for five years in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"You just have to put it in perspective that we're still alive and we're still together. We'll just take it a day at a time and figure out the path we're going to walk next," said Mike.

"And we're just thankful for the blessings that we've been given," added Jamie.

Fire investigators still haven't figured out what caused the fire. As for the boat, it sank and it's still under Phinney Bay.