Woman dies after fire on casino shuttle boat off Florida Gulf Coast

16 January, 2018, 01:30 | Author: Kim Reid
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Port Richey Chief of Police Gerard DeCanio said all 50 passengers and the crew reached land safely as the fast-spreading flames devoured the shuttle boat.

A witness told the Tampa Bay Times the shuttle boat passes regularly passes by his family's home, carrying patrons to and from a casino ship offshore. It is located offshore because it can't legally operate close to land.

A person who was onboard the casino shuttle boat that caught fire off the Florida coast died overnight.

The Coast Guard is investigating what sparked the flames.

"What he did was he brought (the shuttle) closer to shore, actually nearly beaching the boat", DeCanio said of the captain's immediate actions, according to Tampa station WTSP.

Authorities said the Coast Guard, sheriff's office, police and other agencies took part in rescue operations.

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The shuttle had been transporting people between to the Tropical Breeze Casino boat when it had engine problems.

She said no one has threatened legal action against the company.

The casino company said its shuttle boat that caught fire off Florida's Gulf Coast never had any previous problems. Her name has not been released and a cause of death has not been determined.

First there were shouts, then screams and then black smoke billowing into sunny skies as a shuttle boat used to carry patrons to a casino ship offshore rapidly became engulfed in flames.

Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point spokesman Kurt Conover said Monday that the woman died late Sunday, hours after the fire.

"We are just deeply saddened by the loss of that passenger and about any pain or trouble that has been caused to our passengers relating to this incident", she said.

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Fire officials and witnesses say people leaped into chilly waters and reached shore in Port Richey in the greater Tampa Bay area after the fire Sunday afternoon.

Tropical Breeze Casino Cruises didn't immediately respond late Sunday to calls by the AP seeking information. Fifty people, including the boat's crew, had jumped overboard after the fire.

A hospital spokesperson tells the Associated Press about 14 people were injured.

A cause wasn't immediately clear.

The injuries sustained were minor - smoke inhalation and chest tightening - and not considered life-threatening, according to the Pasco County Fire Department.

The casino shuttle boat, owned by Tropical Breeze Casino Cruz, burnt to the hull.

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