9 people rescued from boat fire in Sarasota

SARASOTA, Fla. (WSVN) — A boating day turned into a disaster when a blaze erupted in Sarasota Bay.

Fire crews and other boaters nearby raced to rescue the nine people on board a fiery boat.

Nine passengers ran into a boatload of trouble while out on the water, Saturday.

“You saw black smoke just come from everywhere off the boat,” said witness Tony Hart.

Police along with fire rescue crews responded to the 24-foot vessel engulfed in flames in Sarasota.

Officer Michael Skinner said the boat experienced mechanical issues. It began when the boat owner heard the motor sputtering.

“He opened the hood, realized there had been smoke, turned on the blower,” said Skinner. “The blower was doing its job removing the smoke from the cabin, he then shut off the boat, turned it on again, began to make way, and the boat shut off. Again, he opened up the hood and realized the vessel was on fire.”

In a matter of minutes, nearby boaters stepped in to help.

“Before we were all in the water, we had boats surrounding us to help us. We had immediate help,” one of the passengers said.

“Some good Samaritans from the Sarasota sailing squadron, local charter captains and a jet ski were able to get some of the passengers from the vessel that was on fire into their point,” Skinner said.

The fire was put out in less than 10 minutes.

Skinner said this boat fire stood out as uncommon.

“We don’t normally see fires this intense on a monthly or even yearly basis,” Skinner said.

“Actually, it, like, shocked me because I wasn’t expecting it. This is the first time I see something like this happen,” Hart said.

The boat is now beyond repair and sitting in 10 feet of water.

“We’re going to monitor it to make sure it’s not leaking any fluids, fuels or oils to make sure it’s not a marine hazard upon its removal,” Skinner said.

It was a close call for all on board, but everyone made it back to shore safely.

“Life is good. We’re alive,” a passenger said.

Officials said they need to wait for calmer waters to remove the boat, but they’re hoping to do so by Monday.

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