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Fire Breaks Out on Large Casino Boat off Florida (PHOTO, VIDEO)

Fire Breaks Out on Large Casino Boat off Florida (PHOTO, VIDEO)”

A Long Island native is being hailed a hero after a fire on a boat forced dozens of passengers to leap for their lives into the chilly waters off Florida's Gulf Coast.

"All passengers were able to make it to shore where EMS treated them", according to a statement from the sheriff's office.

Authorities said the Coast Guard, sheriff's office, police and other agencies took part in rescue operations.

The shuttle had embarked from Port Richey on an afternoon run to the Tropical Breeze, a casino boat anchored in the Gulf of Mexico outside the three-mile Florida state waters limit where gambling is legal.

Fox 13 News has a crew heading to the scene and will continue to update this story.

"People started jumping out one by one, and the fire got really quick, really fast", neighbor Bakr Jandali said. Some passengers had to be rescued from the water. He says he quickly turned the vessel around and grounded it close to the shore.

Investigators said that at one point there were more than 40 people in the water after the boat had caught fire.

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Passengers evacuated to hospital were experiencing smoke inhalation and chest tightening, according to ABC News.

A cause of the fire has not yet been released.

When the fire sparked, the captain of the boat beached it about 100 feet from shore. "There were multiple people in the water", Zimmerman recounted.

The boat was carrying passengers to the Sun Cruz Casino boat, which was anchored in nearby worldwide waters, authorities said.

The shuttle boat takes gamblers three miles offshore, where a casino boat floats in global waters.

Once the fire is extinguished, officials will begin an investigation to determine the cause.



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