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Boat catches fire on Oneida Lake

Sunday, the State Police in Sylvan Beach investigated a boat fire that occurred about one-mile north of Lewis Point in the Town of Lenox.

According to police, Russell Metzger and Lisa Parkhurst of West 2nd Street in Syracuse took Metzger's boat out on Oneida Lake at around 6:40 p.m.. They were preparing the boat for winter storage. The pair told police they could smell gas fumes shortly after leaving Callahan's Marina. An explosion shortly followed.

Metzger and Parkhurst jumped into the water as the boat caught fire. A nearby fishing boat witnessed the scene and rescued the two. Sylvan Beach Volunteer Fire Department responded. Upon arriving, the boat was engulfed in flames and the fire department was unable to save the vessell. About an hour and half after the explosion, the boat sank in approximately 50 feet of water.

Metzger and Parkhurst were transported to the village of Sylvan Beach and then to Oneida Healthcare Center to be treated for hypothermia.

The police are still investigating the cause of the fire, but attribute the explosion to a mechanical failure of some kind.

The accident come only a week after the village of Sylvan Beach discussed the fire department's ability to respond to boat emergencies.

The trustees discussed bridge closures at their meeting held Oct. 2.

During a discussion with County Legislator, Norman Leach, trustee Edward Stewart questioned Leach about the situation with the bridges that have been closed.

"The canal bridges you should have back, the Higginsville Bridges are state bridges and the money for state bridges is dedicated until 2012." Leach said.

Stewart went on to say that with the bridges closed fire trucks are not able to get to the boats stored at the Coast Guard Auxiliary. "We can get a mini pumper over there, but that won't do the job." Stewart said. He went on to say that if there is an accident on the bridge ambulances from Camden would have to go all the way to New London. Leach said he was not sure if the little Silver Car Bridge belongs to the county or the town, but he would check and get back to them.

Brandy Ann Phelps contributed to this report.

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