Arts&Culture

Casino Shuttle Boat Catches Fire in Florida

Casino Shuttle Boat Catches Fire in Floridaā€¯

A Long Island native is being hailed a hero after a fire on a boat forced dozens of passengers to leap for their lives into the chilly waters off Florida's Gulf Coast.

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

The San Cruz Casino boat had just set off Sunday afternoon, and was sailing along the Port Richey Canal towards the Tropical Breeze Casino cruise boat, when a fire started in the engine room and soon engulfed the entire boat.

About 15 people were rescued and taken to hospitals after complaining about smoke inhalation and chest pains, officials said.

One of the passengers later died after going to the emergency room at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point.

Hypothermia was a danger for survivors as temperatures were unseasonably cold in the Tampa Bay region - with air temperatures low as 43 degrees Sunday and water temperature 59 degrees.

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A fire with about fifty people on board has broken out on the SunCruz Port Richey Casino off Florida, there are no immediate reports on injuries.

After the boat caught fire, the captain beached it about 100 feet from the shore. He said passengers waded in waist-deep water before reaching land.

The boat was still ablaze hours after it caught fire, the fire department said. There were multiple people in the water. "Whatever I had to do to keep them warm", he says. "I brought them socks and more towels".

The casino is anchored about three miles off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico.

NTSB investigators also concluded that back in 2004 the Express Shuttle II crew failed to activate a Carbon dioxide fire suppression system, and couldn't use fire pumps because the engine had already failed.



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