The Condor Express burst into flames Saturday afternoon while docked in Santa Barbara Harbor near Sea Landing.
Witness Kevin Kewley said he and some friends saw what they thought was thick, black exhaust pouring from the boat, but a few seconds later they spotted the flames. The fire was called in to dispatch at 4:10 p.m. People thought the boat might explode, Kewley said.
An off-duty San Francisco firefighter grabbed a fire hose from the dock and attacked the fire along with another man with a fire extinguisher. The Harbor Patrol arrived and also helped knock down the blaze on the 75-foot vessel. Fire crews then reached the scene, and 11 minutes after the fire began it was out.
The fire, according to officials, was contained to a second-deck interior cabin and navigation area. Investigators are still determining the cause and origin of the blaze.
Fred Benko, who built Sea Landing and captained the Condor Express, died Thursday morning at the age of 73.