Cruise boat shuttle fire in Port Richey

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The Pasco County Sheriff's Office says all of the passengers were able to make it back to shore where EMS crews treated them.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office originally identified the boat as the SunCruz casino shuttle, which was its former name, Fifer said.

"I think this is the last of our trips on the casino boat", he said. There were multiple people in the water.

Fire officials said that the survivors were fortunate the blaze broke out when the shuttle boat was so close to shore.

Port Richey Police Chief Gerard DeCanio said the skipper saw smoke from the motor and turned the vessel around.

Residents ran out to assist the passengers, and so did nearby boaters, as the boat itself was completely consumed by flames. The captain managed to ground the burning vessel just 100 yards from shore, near a residential community on Harborpointe Drive. But it was like anyway it goes, you got to take a chance. He added the fire happened right across the street from his home. He told the Times he invited about 30 passengers into his garage.

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Santangelo, a product developer who moved from Huntington to New Port Richey with his family when he was 12, said the passengers ranged in age from about 20 to 70.

The company says the boat did not have any previous problems. They determined deckhands had no emergency training and a fire detection system was also not working.

About 15 people were taken to local hospitals after complaining of chest pain and smoke inhalation.

She died at the hospital.

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the fire and will look into the actions of all crew members and the condition of the boat to determine what caused the fire. 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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