15 taken to hospital after Florida casino shuttle boat catches fire with 50 aboard

WFLA photo

PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA/AP) – Pasco County Sheriff’s Office deputies are assisting Fire Rescue and the Coast Guard after a casino shuttle boat caught fire in the Port Richey canal on Sunday.

The captain of the shuttle noticed engine trouble. The captain saw flames from the engine room and turned the boat closer to shore so passengers could get to safety.

The casino shuttle caught on fire with 50 people on board. Everyone on board jumped off the boat and into the water.

Earlier Sunday, there was one person reported missing, but later, all passengers and crew members were accounted for and safe.

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Fifteen people were taken to a hospital as precaution. Officials are unaware of any serious injuries.

Port Richey Chief of Police Gerard DeCanio says that there were no life-threatening injuries, mostly reports of chest pain and smoke inhalation.

He says the shuttle boat was close to shore when it had engine problems and the crew decided to turn back.

The shuttle boat carries people back and forth from the Tropical Breeze Casino Cruise, which is offshore because it can’t legally operate close to land.

DeCanio says the shuttle boat was rapidly consumed by fire.

Pasco Sheriff’s Office patrol, marine and air unit responded to assist, as well as the Florida Wildlife Commission and the Coast Guard.

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