The boat's owner tells us he doesn't know why it burst into flames, he's only glad it rescue crews were able to save them quickly.
Video shows the 21-foot Sea Sprite fishing boat in flames near Candlestick Point. You can see three men on the bow of the boat attempting to stay away from the flames and smoke. One man was in the water.
Bryan Gee, who owns the boat, told us what happened at about 9:30 a.m. Saturday just after his engine sounded funny.
"I killed the engine, started it up again," Gee said. "As soon as I started it up, I heard this zap, poof. And next thing you know, flames."
He says the flames and thick black smoke swept up through the boat quickly. They used a fire extinguisher with little result.
"One of our friends actually went into the water because the smoke was so overwhelming for him," Gee said.
Mike Dyslin was one of the people watching the drama from Oyster Point Saturday morning.
"I wouldn't want to be on that boat," Dyslin said. "Small boat, looked like, and nowhere to go with a fire like that."
The group's 911 call brought out the Coast Guard and fire boats from South San Francisco and SFO. But with the tide out, the water was too shallow for the fire boat's to get close enough to put out the fire and other boats to reach the crew.
The only rescue boat that could reach the stranded fishermen in the shallow water was Marine 7 of the San Francisco Police Department.
Video shows the boat come alongside and pluck one man from the water as the other three jumped aboard. Sergeant Dan Greely and Officer Ken Bates operate the craft, which was at Hyde Pier when they got the call and rushed to the scene.
"We have probably one of the fastest boats on the Bay and we're capable of getting into shallow water, so it's part of our Homeland Security unit," Sgt. Greely said.
The four men were brought ashore at Oyster Point in South San Francisco, where fire and paramedic units were waiting. Three men were treated and released. One was taken to Kaiser Hospital in South San Francisco for smoke inhalation, but was later released.
The boat was still slowly drifting and burning into the late afternoon, monitored by a South San Francisco fire boat. Around 4 p.m. it was towed into Oyster Point, it's a total loss.