Fire burns Sun Cruz Casino shuttle with 50 people aboard

From Pasco Sheriff                       WFTS Assignment Desk

The shuttle boat regularly carries people back and forth from the Tropical Breeze's offshore casino, about a 45-minute ride into global waters. "You have water in front of you and water in back of you", with the casino boat going by his house daily.

"Once I realized they were soaking wet, every one of them, I ran upstairs and I started bringing down towels, blankets, clothes, socks - whatever I could grab out of my closet".

DeCanio said the shuttle boat was rapidly consumed by fire.

The woman's cause of death or information about her injuries weren't immediately known.

Another 14 people were reportedly injured, with eight of them taken to the hospital where they were treated and released.

Florida Casino boat was sustaining its usual course when suddenly the flame sparked and in a few moments the leaping flames engulfed the entire boat. Passengers had to jump into the cool waters to swim to safety on shore.

Officials said two deputies who first arrived jumped into the water and began rescuing passengers.

The Coast Guard is investigating the fire.

As far as their experience with the burning boat was concerned, Santangelo added, "Some just talked about jumping into the water and being so grateful that they were going to be able to have comfort".

The area is about 40 miles north of St. Petersburg, Fla.

Another witness told the Tampa Bay Times the shuttle boat passes regularly by his family's home, carrying patrons to and from a casino ship offshore.

Another Tropical Breeze vessel caught fire in 2004.

In a brief statement Monday morning, a manager with Tropical Breeze told FOX 13 over the phone, "Our hearts are broken for the woman who passed away and anyone who has been affected by this".

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

"It's scary. Most business owners like us, we do the best we can and we try to keep everyone safe". Shortly after the vessel left the dock, the captain spotted smoke spewing from the engine room and made a decision to turn around.

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