MAYDAY: Whale watching boat rescues two people from burning ship

(Photo: Ian Gidney, Outdoor Visions)

BRITISH COLUMBIA -- A whale watching boat responded to a Mayday call and rescued two people and a dog from a burning ship.

According to the Pacific Whale Watch Association, Captain Ian Gidney heard the call for help Wednesday just after his boat had left a pod of orcas in the Strait of Georgia.

Gidney, who happened to be only eight minutes away, sped toward a large column of black smoke and found a 45-foot boat on fire.

“We saw a man in a dinghy and a woman and dog on deck,” Gidney said. “The boat was completely engulfed in flames and smoke.  It was very scary.”

A man, a woman and their dog all made it off  of the burning boat safely.

“They had no engine, so we grabbed their dinghy and managed to pull them away from the fire,” Gidney said. “The woman and dog got onto another boat that had just arrived on the scene, and we took the man onto our boat and assisting him as best we can.  He said his engine would not turn off and when he went to the engine room it was full of smoke.  Thankfully he sent a mayday call right away.  He was pretty shaken and had inhaled smoke, but otherwise was alright.  It could’ve been a lot worse.”

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police sent a hovercraft to take them all to safety.

Captain Gidney said the ship was still burning when they left the scene.

“All Pacific Whale Watch Association crews regularly do emergency response training.” said Michael Harris, Executive Director of the Pacific Whale Watch Association.  "You just never know what’s going to happen out there.”