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Boater burned in blaze on mend
Relative details island rescue
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Forsyth County News

A Forsyth County man who was severely burned in a houseboat fire last week is at home recovering.

Nick Porter, 41, was flown Nov. 2 to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, where he was treated for second-and third-degree burns on his upper body and arms.

Debra Mitchell, Porter’s mother-in-law, said he was released from the hospital Wednesday and will have to make several trips back for treatment.

“We’re not sure if he’s going to have to have skin grafts or not on his arms, but he’s looking a heck of a lot better than he did that night,” Mitchell said.

She said the boat belongs to her and her husband Jack, and that Porter’s wife and two teenage children, along with some family friends, were on the 72-foot vessel when the fire occurred.

She said described it as a grease fire that started in the kitchen.

Forsyth County fire and emergency medical personnel responded about 3:30 p.m. to Long Hollow Park, not far from the island where the boat was beached.

Residents near that part of the lake reported seeing flames and hearing an explosion.

Mitchell said all nine people on board were rescued from the island by Jeff and Dot Smith, who arrived to help on their pontoon boat.

Porter was one of the first taken to the shore.

“They were sweethearts,” Mitchell said of the Smiths. “They ferried us over to check on Nick and then they took us all the way back to where our cars were parked so that we could get to Grady Memorial.”

Firefighters could not extinguish the flames because the department does not have a boat equipped to handle such situations.

Mitchell said she was grateful to the Smiths and the fire department for their help.

She also dispelled one of the rumors surrounding the incident, saying that no one was drinking alcohol on the boat.

She said the fire was an accident.

“We’re all doing fine. Just pray that Nick doesn’t have to have skin grafts,” she said.