Dozens rescued after casino boat catches fire

From Pasco Sheriff                       WFTS Assignment Desk

Fifty people, including the boat's crew, had jumped overboard after the fire. "He said he noticed smoke coming form the engine room and turned the boat around", Whited told the news agency.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office reported there were 50 people on board when it happened, but said all passengers were able to make it ashore. Early media reports suggested one person was missing, but it was later revealed all 50 passengers made it to shore. Deputies did not release any other information about her cause of death.

The shuttle boat regularly carries people back and forth from the Tropical Breeze's offshore casino, about a 45-minute ride into worldwide waters. "The fire was moving fast".

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.

It was just 100 feet from the shore, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office reported.

"They didn't have much time to decide whether or not to jump", said Bakr Jandali, 19, who was with his family at home nearby. The flames torched every inch of the boat except for the American flag at the bow.

The shuttle left the dock at 3:30 p.m. headed for the casino ship moored a few miles offshore in worldwide waters. None of the injuries were initially thought to be life threatening. "The whole neighborhood [was] communicating and going back to our houses to get whatever they need like water or clothes like socks".

"The people in the homes brought clothes out to us, they were pulling clothes out of their closest to bring out to us to put on to keep warm, and blankets", said Shelia.

"It was so windy, and they were soaking wet", Santangelo told the newspaper.

Patrol and marine units responded to the incident as well as air units, fire and rescue crews and a Coast Guard response team.



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