People on a boat who had allegedly been harassing a family flying LGBTQ pride flags on their vessel had to be rescued Sunday evening after their watercraft burst into flames on Moses Lake in Washington state.
According to video of the incident, which has gone viral on TikTok and Twitter, the boaters "harassed and spun circles" around the family's boat "after they saw [their] pride flags]."
It is not clear from the video what led up to the incident, but a woman in the other boat can be seen giving the middle finger to the family with the pride flags.
The passenger on the pride flag boat whose tweet about the incident went viral told BuzzFeed News via Twitter messages that he was on the vessel near Blue Heron Park with his girlfriend, his brother, and his brother's partner flying multiple LGBTQ and transgender rights flags.
They then heard the other boat approaching and saw a woman on that vessel flip them off, said the passenger, who asked to be identified by his nickname, Robbie, to protect his family's privacy.
"Then the boat quickly made a sharp turn back towards us and went around us. I then again personally heard someone shout what I thought to be the word 'gays' so I asked my brother to pull out his phone and blatantly start recording in hopes that it would avoid conflict if they noticed," Robbie said.
The other boat drove around them six or seven times, causing extensive waves, Robbie added.
"They then attempted to speed away as they left a large cloud of smoke surrounding the area we occupied," Robbie said. "After a moment, we heard a loud backfire and a sputter come from the boat. Though I could not see the boat, in the direction, I could see a cloud of black smoke rising quickly.
"The driver, possibly embarrassed, then rushed to start the vehicle again... Another few moments pass and we hear an incredibly loud explosion come from the direction they were headed. Our driver shouted, 'Holy crap! They blew up!'"
Robbie's boat then went to the aid of the stricken vessel, rescuing the passengers from the water.
The Grant County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the boat fire occurred on Sunday around 7:45 p.m.
Sheriff Tom Jones said deputies and the local fire department responded to the scene, where they extinguished the flames and towed the scorched boat to shore.
Jones said they do not yet know what caused the fire, but that deputies were told it came from the engine compartment in the middle of the boat. The boat's owner and one other passenger received burns but refused medical treatment, he added.
On Tuesday, Robbie tweeted that he and his group were back on their boat again, proudly displaying their flags.
"We will not hide our pride," Robbie said.
Meanwhile, Robbie and the other passengers have declined to pursue criminal charges.
"We have privately thanked them for their heroic efforts in rescuing the people who jumped from the burning boat," the sheriff's office said in a statement Wednesday. "The Grant County Sheriff’s Office does not stand for intolerance of anyone and will investigate those cases accordingly."
This story has been updated to include an interview with Robbie, the person whose tweets about the incident went viral.