The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office reported via Twitter Sunday evening that a fire had been reported aboard a SunCruz casino ferry north of the Pithlachascotee River mouth. 50 passengers were aboard, according to officials, all of whom we either able to make it to shore or were picked up by first responders and were treated by EMS.
In a photo posted to social media, it appears the ferry burned to the water line.
The Pasco Sheriff’s Office responded to assist Port Richey PD with a vessel fire in the Port Richey canal. The Sun Cruz casino shuttle caught on fire with 50 people on board. All passengers were able to make it to shore where EMS treated them. Pasco Sheriff’s Office members from patrol, Marine and the Air Unit responded to assist Fire Rescue and the Coast Guard.
Prior to the fire, the report of which came in just after 4 PM, the captain of the vessel had reported engine trouble and had turned the ferry around toward port. The Sheriff’s Office said that 15 people were transported for injuries. Coast Guard units also reported to the scene along with Fire Rescue.
Terrified witnesses watched as people on board a casino boat shuttle jumped into the Gulf waters to escape a fire.
— Josh Sidorowicz (@joshsidorowicz) January 15, 2018
10News posted a citizen-captured video of the incident as passengers evacuated. It appeared that the vessel had run aground in shallow water and that passengers were able to walk to shore.
A similar incident was investigated in 2004 on one of SunCruz casino’s ferry boats in a very similar location and fashion. That vessel, the Express Shuttle II, also burned to the water line. No injuries were reported in that fire and only crew were aboard. The National Transportation Safety Board reviewed the incident and found that the cause was improper maintenance by SunCruz with improperly installed fuel lines. That report is linked [here.](https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Reports/MAR0602.pdf)