Before blast, boater followed procedure, official says

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The owner of a boat that exploded on Sunday afternoon followed procedure by allowing the "blowers" on the inboard-outboard unit to run as long as 15 minutes before he started it, an official said.

The blowers bring outside air into the engine compartment on sterndrive boats like the 24-footer owned by Neil Edwards, a Springfield, Va., man who also has a residence in Ocean Pines, Md., where the explosion occurred.

The outside air displaces fuel vapors in the engine compartment, reducing the risk of explosion.

Candy Thomson, a spokeswoman with the Maryland Natural Resources Police, said nothing was amiss when Edwards, who had also opened ventilation hatches, reversed the vessel away from a private dock with four others aboard.

"When he put it in forward gear, it blew up," Thomson said. "He had the blowers on about 10 or 15 minutes."

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