A shuttle boat carrying 50 individuals to a on line casino boat off Florida’s gulf coast caught fireplace on Sunday afternoon, forcing passengers to leap overboard to flee the fast-moving flames, the authorities mentioned.

All 50 passengers acquired off the vessel earlier than flames consumed it round four p.m., however emergency employees needed to wade into the frigid waters about 25 miles northwest of Tampa, Fla., to rescue about 15 individuals who had not made it ashore, the police mentioned. A couple of dozen individuals have been handled for publicity, anxiousness and different minor accidents, mentioned Chief Gerard DeCanio of the Port Richey Police Division.

Chief DeCanio mentioned that fast considering by the shuttle boat’s captain helped keep away from a catastrophe. Shortly after the vessel left the dock, the captain noticed smoke spewing from the engine room and determined to show round. However the fireplace quickly grew, so the captain steered the boat towards the shore, permitting passengers to leap off into shallow water, Chief DeCanio mentioned.

“One other quarter-mile out, this could have been a tragedy,” he mentioned.

The Solar Cruz shuttle boat makes a number of journeys day by day from town of Port Richey to a on line casino boat about three and a half miles offshore, in worldwide waters the place playing is authorized.

Photographs and movies posted on social media confirmed massive flames coming off the vessel and passengers swimming within the water. Chief DeCanio mentioned the captain virtually ran the boat aground as he tried to get near the shore.

“They really walked to the shore,” he mentioned. “They have been fortunate nobody was severely harm.”


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