Boat catches fire off coast of Fort Lauderdale
6 people on 'New Lattitude' safely rescued
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A 48-foot charter fishing boat caught fire Monday morning off the coast of Fort Lauderdale.
Firefighters were battling the flames after a boat called "New Lattitude" caught fire about a mile from shore in the Atlantic Ocean.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Capt. Greg May said the people on the boat were safely rescued.
Coast Guard officials confirmed there were six people aboard the boat. Authorities said good Samaritans aboard another charter boat called the Lady Pamela 2 picked up the passengers on the burning boat.
Kate Barringer, who was aboard the Lady Pamela 2, said she saw one of the men try to jump on her boat, but he nearly got crushed between the two boats.
"The wind and with everything -- the wake and the rocking of the boats -- they hit each other and he slipped, but he caught himself, thank God," she said.
A view from Sky 10 showed the charred boat floating in the water.
Fort Lauderdale Fireboat 49 was headed out to sea for training exercises when they got the call. They arrived at the scene quickly, but the fire was fully involved.
Firefighters quickly extinguished the flames.
"The boat was completely engulfed in fire all the way up to the fly bridge, and all the people went out on the bow," Capt. Gene Checchi, of the Lady Pamela 2, said.
The Coast Guard remained at the scene with Sea Tow after the fire was extinguished to try to figure out how they were going to salvage the boat and contain a diesel fuel spill caused by the fire.
Authorities said the fuel was being carried north with the current.
According to Sea Tow, the boat has sunk to the bottom of the ocean, but it cannot be left there as it is a danger to navigation.
It is now up to the boat owner to hire a salvage company to remove the boat.
A portion of Fort Lauderdale Beach was closed after the incident, but has since reopened.
As for the Canadian tourists who were aboard the burning boat, the good Samaritans said they were shaken and emotional.
"Oh my God, they wanted to kiss me, but I wouldn't let them," Checchi joked. "They were very, very thankful, of course."
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
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