Florida casino boat catches fire near New Port Richey

Florida casino boat catches fire near New Port Richey

The Pasco County Sheriffs Office assisted in the rescue along with several agencies including the Coast Guard, Pasco Fire Rescue, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and Port Richey police.

Tropical Breeze Casino spokeswoman Beth Fifer said the company does not know what caused Sunday's blaze, which gutted the shuttle boat and forced about 50 passengers to jump into the chilly waters off Port Richey.

About 50 people were on the casino shuttle at the time of the fire, authorities said.

The cause of the fire is unknown and, after it extinguishes, will be investigated.

"All of us, my family and the neighbors, brought them towels and water", Jandali said.

Larry Santangelo, 57, said that he had just arrived in his locality when he saw the smoke brewing and the fire and had a thought that may be his house was on fire, but soon discerned it was the boat that was 100 yards away.

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Frigid air and cold water added panic to the rescue, but everyone was able to make it to shore.

Port Richey Police Chief Gerard DeCanio credited the captain with preventing a far worse tragedy. "There were multiple people in the water", Zimmerman recounted. "I just started putting them anywhere I could fit them — my garage, my fishing room".

'We rescued probably 12 to 15 people that were out in the water'. Local residents then offered them towels, socks and water to drink.

The 60-foot boat was headed to a Sun Cruz Casino boat, located three miles from the coast in worldwide waters for legal gambling.

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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