OFF PORT EVERGLADES, Fla. (WSVN) – A boat has sunk after it caught fire off Port Everglades, forcing two people to dive into the water to get away from the flames.
U.S. Coast Guard members, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue and Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue personnel responded to the fire several miles east of the entrance to the port, Thursday afternoon.
James Rigby said he and another man were on their way to Bimini when the vessel started to spew smoke.
“Next thing we know, the whole boat is catching on fire,” Rigby said. “We slowed the engine down, and we cut it off. He went back down to try to extinguish the smoke, and that got too big.”
Moments later, Rigby said the boat was overwhelmed and engulfed by flames.
“We had to call mayday and try to extinguish it,” Rigby said. “Then, as the fire kept getting bigger, we couldn’t control it. Now, we get to the point that we got to abandon ship. We got to get off.”
Rigby said he and the other man were floating in the open water for about an hour before they were rescued. The two men were later picked up by Coast Guard members and did not need medical attention, officials said.
Aerial footage from 7Skyforce HD captured thick black smoke billowing into the air from the boat, as a cargo ship navigated around the blaze. The vessel sunk shortly after.
Cameras captured both boaters on dry land and speaking with officials, but one of them was wrapped in a blanket. They were taken to a marina off 15th Street in Fort Lauderdale.
They were checked out by paramedics before they were released.
Rigby said he knows the situation could have been worse.
“Thank God that we’re safe,” he said. “The Coast Guard was there for us, and the boat just burned right down and went underwater, just gone.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
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