Hydro Racing

Fire breaks out on Grand Prix boat during Columbia Cup racing at Tri-City Water Follies

A Grand Prix boat driver appears to have gotten out of a boat after it caught fire during Tri-City Water Follies.
A Grand Prix boat driver appears to have gotten out of a boat after it caught fire during Tri-City Water Follies. Tri-City Herald

A fire broke out in the engine of one of the boats racing during the HAPO Columbia Cup during Tri-City Water Follies Saturday.

Competitors in the second heat race for Grand Prix Hydroplanes were heading into the second turn of the first lap when the GP-12 Schellhase Racing/Miss DeJulio boat started to slow.

It didn’t take long for smoke and flames to begin pouring out of the engine.

Driver Greg Hopp was driving the boat, and during the race a methanol leak occurred in the engine.

“There was a heat emission, and it burned through and sprayed oil everywhere,” Hopp said.

That started the engine fire.

Hopp wasn’t aware of it, but he did lose power. He was trying to get inside the course, and then he noticed the rescue sleds were high-tailing it for him.

“That doesn’t normally happen in the middle of the race,” Hopp said. “Then I looked in the mirror and saw the fire.”

It got hot fast, and Hopp got out and dived into the river.

“It’s fixable, but not here,” said Hopp.

burntHydro.jpg
The crew with GP-12 Shellhase hydroplane works to get the boat out of the water after it was brought back to the docks. The fire broke out in the engine of the boat while racing during the HAPO Columbia Cup on Saturday. Noelle Haro-Gomez Tri-City Herald

The fire was the second major incident on the Columbia River Saturday. Earlier in the day, the E-20 5-liter hydroplane driven by Travis Johnston broke apart in the water as it hit the Columbia River near fans on the Franklin County side of the river during a heat race.

Rescue divers raced to the overturned hydroplane and jumped into the water to rescue Johnston from the disabled boat. Johnston escaped injury.

Former Herald sports editor Jeff Morrow contributed to this report.

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The aftermath from GP-12 Shellhase hydroplane after a fire broke out in the engine of the boat while racing during the HAPO Columbia Cup on Saturday. Noelle Haro-Gomez Tri-City Herald
Cameron Probert covers breaking news and education for the Tri-City Herald, where he tries to answer readers’ questions about why police officers and firefighters are in your neighborhood. He studied communications at Washington State University.
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