'Hero' fisherman Chris Dargel tells tale of boat fire in Stratford

Chris Dargel says he's gone out fishing with his father, Peter Dargel, since he was about 3 years old. His experience at sea came in handy when the clamming boat he was on suddenly erupted in flames. (6/8/14)

STRATFORD - One of the fishermen aboard a boat that caught fire in Stratford on Saturday shared his heroic story with News 12 Connecticut.

Chris Dargel says he's gone out fishing with his father, Peter Dargel, since he was about 3 years old. His experience at sea came in handy when the clamming boat he was on suddenly erupted in flames.

Dargel says an apparent generator malfunction ignited 450 gallons of gasoline on the 40-foot boat. He was aboard the craft with the captain and a younger fisherman.

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"The fire got out of control, the captain gave the order to abandon ship, so we did," Dargel says. However, the younger fisher was not a confident swimmer.

Dargel took action by throwing a life preserver to the younger fisherman, then grabbed another one and threw it to the captain, whose arm caught fire in the chaos.

A rescue boat came along and threw Dargel a line, but he put his shipmates' lives first and got them aboard before worrying about his own safety.

Peter Dargel says he is grateful that his son was a hero and lived to tell about it. "That was the best Father's Day gift I could ever have received," he told News 12.

The boat was destroyed by the fire, but Chris Dargel says the captain hopes to get back out on the water as soon as he recovers from third-degree burns to his arms.

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