Fire Erupts On Casino Shuttle Boat

Pasco County Sheriff's Office

The boat was filled with passengers being shuttled to the Tropical Breeze casino boat, which is anchored in the Gulf of Mexico, roughly three miles off the coast.

Tropical Breeze Casino spokeswoman Beth Fifer tells the AP that the company had never experienced a problem with the boat and does not know why the fire broke out. The shuttle hadn't gone far, and the boat got close enough to the shore to make escape manageable, he said. Concerned witnesses on shore can be heard shouting at the passengers, "Get out!"

About 50 people, passengers and crew, had to jump from the boat into the chilly waters to safety. But one passenger, a 42-year-old woman, was later taken to a hospital emergency room and died, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Department.

One person has died after people fled from a boat that caught fire off a Florida shore.

Residents ran out to assist the passengers, as did nearby boaters, as the boat itself was completely consumed by flames. "The fire was moving fast".

Florida Casino boat was sustaining its usual course when suddenly the flame sparked and in a few moments the leaping flames engulfed the entire boat.

All of the 50 people aboard the shuttle that serves Port Richey-based SunCruz Ltd. have been accounted for, said Port Richey Chief of Police Gerard DeCanio.

"It smelled like an electrical fire, and then the crew came on and they started saying they were having engine issues, told us we needed to move up to the upper deck", said Darrell McAfee. "It was a hard jump".

Jandali's family called 911 and helped people wading to shore, through water 8 to 10 feet deep.

"It was so windy and they were soaking wet", he said. I brought them socks and more towels'. "They were so cold".

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission also responded to the scene, along with Port Richey police and the Marine and Air Unit.

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