A man was seriously injured after a boat he was in caught fire on Lamu Island on Tuesday evening.
Shafi Mawiyawiya escaped with serious burns on his left leg and hand after the petrol-powered boat which was parked in one of the yards exploded in an incident believed to have been caused by a cigarette.
Eyewitnesses who spoke to the Nation said the victim might have contributed to the explosion.
It took almost an hour for residents to put out the fire using water from the Indian Ocean after helping the man move out of the burning boat.
Mr Athman Musa, a coxswain who was present by the time the fire broke out, said there was a jerrican of petrol inside the boat which ignited immediately the cigarette was lit.
"It was around 4.30pm when we saw the huge flame coming from the boat parked at one of the Indian Ocean yards near the Lamu Old Town seafront. We moved quickly to save the man who was inside the boat before we put out the fire using water from the Indian Ocean. The man had lit a cigarette without knowing that there was petrol near him. The jerrican caught fire and exploded causing the huge flame," said Mr Musa.
The man was rushed to the King Fahad County Referral Hospital for treatment.
Following the incident, Lamu County Boat Operators Association Chairman Hassan Awadh asked coxswains and even passengers to avoid any incidents that risk their lives while travelling on boats and dhows.
Mr Awadh cautioned sailors against smoking while travelling in boats and dhows, most of which use petrol-propelled engines.
"It's very improper for you to smoke while aboard boats or dhows most of which are driven by petrol engines. Let's avoid such careless behaviour so that we don't cause unnecessary accidents and deaths," said Mr Awadh.
He also advised boat operators to consider parking their vessels in places far from residential areas.
Boats are a crucial element in Lamu's water transport system as they are the main modes of movement. They are mainly used by people entering and exiting Lamu Island from the rest of the islands including Mtangawanda, Faza, Pate, Kizingitini, Kiwayu, Ndau, Mkokoni, Kiunga as well as the mainland areas of Mokowe, Hindi, Mpeketoni and Witu among others.