The hero who helped rescue passengers aboard a boat that caught fire on the Thames near Twickenham on Saturday has been praised for his swift response to what could have been ‘a complete disaster’.
Andy Spencer, 28, was the first man on the scene and pulled people from the water to safety just seconds after the explosion.
Mr Spencer (pictured above) was metres away, ferrying people across the river when the explosion took place and immediately jumped into action.
“It could have been a complete disaster,” Mr Spencer said. “Some of them are lucky to be alive.
“It all happened in slow motion. We saw a boat coming and suddenly it went bang. I saw two people blow out the side and flames come from the engine room.”
Fortunately, the other six individuals were able to jump from the boat and nobody was seriously injured.
Mr Spencer was quick to play down his role in the rescue. He said: “It’s not a big deal. There’s no way I would just sit back and do nothing.”
Mr Spencer, who has worked for his father’s company Hammertons Ferry for ten years, knew how to respond to the explosion.
“Andy was telling me what to do,” said Alvaro Alvarez, who was on the boat and works for Mr Spencer. “It was really scary, but Andy knew what he was doing.”
After Mr Spencer got the people to safety he returned to the boat, which was still engulfed in flames and drifting towards the shore.
“I had a plan. I was lucky that there was a rope hanging off the bow, so I grabbed that and towed it away slowly. The boat was really burning so we moved it away from the trees,” he said.
The Teddington RNLI and emergency services were quickly on the scene and took control of the situation.
An RNLI spokesperson said: “Teddington RNLI did launch to a vessel on fire on Saturday.
“Once the lifeboat had arrived at the scene the passengers had already been evacuated safely by the staff of Hammertons Ferry.
“They did a fantastic job and we’re extremely grateful for their swift response.”