Fire engulfs ferryboat off Florida coast

At least 15 people were injured when a fire engulfed a boat off the coast of Florida on Sunday January 17th. The 50 people aboard were forced to jump into the Gulf of Mexico and swim to shore. Shawn Whited, division chief with Pasco Fire Rescue, said that a preliminary investigation indicated that an issue with the engine was to blame.

“The captain of the boat said there was an issue with the engine. He said he noticed smoke coming from the engine room and turned the boat around,” Whited said.

The 60-foot shuttle boat was on its way to the Sun Cruz Casino boat, a little more than three miles away in international waters. It had only made it about 100 yards from where it originated in Port Richey, about 30 miles north of downtown Tampa.

After seeing the smoke, the captain prompted the 50 people aboard the boat to abandon ship and swim to shore. Some of the injuries sustained were from being in cold water, while some were from smoke inhalation, said Whited. The boat was fully engulfed in flames.