For the fishermen featured on Discovery’s Deadliest Catch, bouncing around on a ship’s deck 180 miles north of Dutch Harbor in the Bering Sea hammered by waves that send sea spray drenching everything to the core in frigid Arctic temps, you might think the last thing they’d have to worry about is fire. But that’s exactly what they encountered on tonight’s episode.
And the irony is that it was a disaster entirely of their own making.
The situation began innocently enough as a good-natured birthday prank when s aboard the Time Bandit planned to celebrate Deadliest Catch staple and deck boss Freddy Maugatai’s 50th birthday with a flour bombing that unexpectedly turned nearly tragic.
After presenting him with a crab-pot buoy inscribed with “Happy 50th B-day, Freddie” and “We Luv U,” the plan was to cut the lights on the boat to create a blackout, crush a dozen and a half eggs on Maugatai’s head, dust him with a huge sack of flour and fire up an emergency flare, creating a human birthday cake of sorts.
Trouble is, no one seemed to know that flour is extremely flammable, especially when airborne, and Maugatai was instantly and completely engulfed in flames.
It was a very scary moment when seen from the bridge as the fisherman screamed in shock and pain and ran to dunk his burned face and head in the ship’s seawater-filled fish hold.
“Hey, human candle! Dude, you were gone! You were on fire!” Captain Johnathan Hillstrand said over the P.A. system. Thank you, Captain Obvious.
Despite serious burns on his face and singed eyebrows, Maugatai didn’t require hospitalization, and he accepted the “gift” with grace and humor.
“I’m O.K., boss,” he said. “That was the best birthday present ever!”
Deadliest Catch airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Discovery.