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Father-son fishing trip turns into battle against forest fire

From far away, Tony Holt said it looked like the glow of a campfire, but after watching the shore for a short time, he and his son realized it was much bigger than that. (AP Photo/File)

What started as a fishing trip at Baker Lake last week soon turned into a battle against a forest fire fought with a motor boat.

Tony Holt was hoping to get a little bonding in on Thursday with his 25-year-old son, so off they went to Baker Lake with their jet-powered outboard. It has a 110-horse engine with a jet nozzle for propulsion. They’re up there, it’s beautiful, all the stars are out, peaceful – and there’s a glow of what looks like a campfire across the lake.

It wasn’t a campfire.

“Pretty soon we looked at each other and said, ‘That’s no campfire. That’s a forest fire,'” Holt told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross.

The pair took their boat across the lake and discovered hot spots glowing red and smoke – the entire hillside was on fire. They didn’t have a shovel because they weren’t prepared to camp. They had two fire extinguishers aboard the boat, but that wasn’t much against a forest fire. “It was like a drop in the bucket,” said Holt.

But they were armed with their boat. When they realized the fire was near the water, they used it to fight the blaze. Tilting the motor up, Holt would keep the jet down in the water, so it would suck up water. Then he would start gutting the throttle and it would shoot high pressured water through a four-inch nozzle.

“That thing would probably shoot about a good 75 feet,” said Holt.

They had started fighting the blaze around 11:30 p.m. on Thursday. By 4:15 a.m. on Friday, it was out.

“We were coming back to shore [and] my alarm clock to go fishing at 4:15 went off.” Holt turned to his son, “‘Guess what, son? We’re not going fishing. We’re going to get some rest here.'”

It was more bonding than the father and son could have planned on when they set out to go fishing the night before.

“After we finally got a few winks of rest, my son just had this glowing smile on his face,” said Holt. “He says, ‘that was the greatest experience I have ever had.’ So it was quite a fishing trip.”

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