Police say a couple were forced to leap from their boat into Kiama Harbour after it caught alight in on Tuesday afternoon.
Fire and Rescue NSW crews worked to extinguish fire about 1.30pm, which they said had “fully engulfed” the small vessel.
Senior Constable Lori Hanley told the Mercury a husband and wife aboard the boat dived off when the boat caught fire. The husband was taken to Shellharbour hospital for smoke inhalation, she said.
Onlooker Tom Costello saw the incident unfolding when he was having lunch in the area.
“I ran down to the water to see what had happened and people were panicked that someone was onboard and then a bystander said that he saw someone swimming to the boat ramp,” Mr Costello said.
Another bystander, Trevor Newcombe – who keeps his boat in the harbour – said he saw the boat coming through the harbour entrance when it was “well ablaze”.
“All I saw was a boat coming past the harbour entrance on fire. Obviously, they jumped off the boat near the harbour here and it was well ablaze.
“It must be a petrol [boat] and it caught on fire.”
Fire and Rescue crews loaded their equipment into a charter boat to extinguish the burning boat.
Marine police were also called to tow the boat out of the harbour.