Florida casino shuttle boat bursts into flames; 1 reportedly dead

Posted January 16, 2018

The shuttle boat caught fire around 4 p.m. Sunday, quickly engulfing the boat, with the flames torching every inch of the boat except for the American flag at the bow.

The casino shuttle boat, owned by Tropical Breeze Casino Cruz, burnt to the hull. "He said he noticed smoke coming from the engine room and turned the boat around", Shawn Whited, division chief with Pasco Fire Rescue, told Reuters.

Pasco County Fire Rescue official Shawn Whited said passengers on board the vessel jumped to get away from the fire and swam the chilly waters to shore, while some were rescued by other boats.

Authorities in Port Richey, about 40 miles north of St. Petersburg, said immediately after the fire that more than a dozen people suffered non-life threatening injuries.

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Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Michael De Nyse said investigators will determine the cause of the fire and examine the history of the boat and Tropical Breeze Casino. "The fire was moving fast".

Police released a photo and video showing the boat in flames, spitting thick black smoke into the air.

All passengers and crew members have been accounted for.

Port Richey Chief of Police Gerard DeCanio told The Associated Press the shuttle boat's crew detected engine problems and made a decision to turn back. "It was a hard jump".

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Mcaffee's husband Darrell said that will be the last time they press their luck for a while.

Jandali told the newspaper that his family and neighbors rushed to bring towels and water to the evacuated passengers, at least one of whom collapsed and vomited upon reaching the shore.

"At the end of the day, everyone's cold, everyone's wet, but everyone's safe", Port Richey Police Department Detective Angel Russo added.

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