50 people forced to jump ship after casino shuttle boat catches fire

Carla Harmon
January 15, 2018

Officials said two deputies who first arrived jumped into the water and began rescuing passengers.

Authorities said that all injuries sustained by passengers are not life threatening.

Investigators said that at one point there were more than 40 people in the water after the boat had caught fire.

Photo A boat carrying 50 people headed to a casino boat northwest of Tampa, Fla., caught on fire, forcing passengers to jump overboard to escape the flames.

They said the boat was going to a casino in worldwide waters.

"They actually walked to the shore", he said.

Local television news footage at the site showed survivors cloaked in blankets trying to warm themselves after their ordeal.

Larry Santangelo, 57, said he had just driven into his neighborhood when he saw smoke and fire and thought a house - possibly his own - was ablaze.

Forty-nine of the passengers were able to make it to shore, where they were treated by emergency crews. He anxious that some might suffer from hypothermia. The cause of the fire has not been released.

The boat was near shore when it was experiencing engine problems, Port Richey Chief of Police Gerard DeCanio said.

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