"I think a lot of it is the grace of God watching over us," Mike Babbitt said of the incident
A Washington man says he’s thankful to be alive after he managed to save himself and his two bulldogs from a burning yacht.
Last Friday, Mike Babbitt left his slip at the Bremerton Yacht Club to go fuel up when the engine compartment of the boat caught fire, he told Komo News.
“I could tell right away it was more than I could do with an extinguisher,” Mike told the outlet.
As the yacht became engulfed in flames, Mike, a retired Boise City Police detective, acted fast and moved the boat into the middle of the water, so that it wouldn’t spread to the other yachts at the dock.
“The wind was blowing from the North. It would have blown the boat into the yacht club so I just gave it all the power I could to get it away from the yacht club,” he told Komo News.
However, that wasn’t the end of Mike’s mission. Still on the boat were his two bulldogs Pearl and Hootie, who weigh 60 and 70 pounds respectively.
Mike told Komo News that he placed the dogs on a paddleboard before jumping into the water himself.
He explained to Komo News that he didn’t even have time to grab a life vest or his oxygen. Mike served in the army for five years in a special police unit in Iraq and Afghanistan. During his time in the army, he suffered a pancreatic attack that forced him to rely on oxygen therapy for the rest of his life.
Still, he managed to do the unthinkable.
“I just slid into the water and started paddling away from the fire and I could still feel the heat from the fire,” Mike told the news outlet.
Mike was then rescued by some friends and later transported to a nearby hospital, where his wife Jamie met him.
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Jamie opened up about the horrific incident, explaining to Komo News that she could see the smoke filling the sky from the freeway as she was driving.
“I could see the smoke and the coast guard helicopter and it suddenly became very, very real,” Jamie told Komo News.
The fire is especially heartbreaking for Mike and his wife as the yacht was their primary residence. They had previously sold their home and saved up in order to maintain a life on the water.
“We had saved for a while so we could do this because it was a dream of ours. Now we have to start over from scratch,” Mike told Komo News.
However, Mike is just happy to have survived.
“I think a lot of it is the grace of God watching over us,” Mike told Komo News. “You have to put it in perspective that we’re still alive and we’re still together.”
“We’re just thankful for the blessings that we’ve been given,” Jamie said.
A GoFundMe has since been created to help the Babbitts following the fire.