6 People Rescued From Tugboat on Fire in Ocean Off Marineland
FlaglerLive | July 22, 2016
Six people were rescued off a tugboat that caught fire several miles from shore near Marineland late this afternoon.
The six individuals took to a life raft after the tugboat caught fire, for reasons unknown at the moment, immediately next to a barge registered to Express Marine Inc. Early reports had indicated the possibility of explosions on board. Two fireballs were witnessed from shore.
The Coast Guard, Flagler County Fire Rescue’s Marine Unit, and Flagler County Fire Flight all responded after the fire was reported around 5:30 p.m. The barge was about five miles offshore.
The tugboat, the 98-foot steel Thomas Dann out of Tampa, a 41-year-old vessel, is operated by Dann Ocean Towing of Tampa and operates in the Gulf of Mexico, various ports along the Caribbean coasts, and the Mississippi River, among other water bodies, according to U.S. Maritime Intelligence.
By 6 p.m., the six survivors were reported to be safe, picked up by a fishing vessel.
Had the vessel not been in close proximity, Flagler County Fire Rescue’s swimmers were in the helicopter with a raft, ready to jump in the ocean to pick up the survivors as they are trained to do.
Eighteen members of Flagler County Fire Rescue are part of its marine unit, or trained to be in the unit. Six were at the scene this evening, in addition to Fire Flight’s crew. The department started training for its swift-water rescues in 2008. The unit has grown since. It includes three jet skis, three ATVs and has two huts that house fast-response equipment in addition to equipment stored at Station 41 in the Hammock.
This isn’t the first problem for the Thomas Dann. Four years ago on New York’s East River it was pulling a crane that, when it passed under the Brooklyn Bridge, ripped scaffolding used by painters. “The bridge was closed for a short time to traffic, but was quickly reopened after roughly 100 firefighters, police officers, and other responders were dispatched to the scene and no structural damage was discovered,” WorkBoat, a trade publication, reported at the time. “According to the New York Daily News, the tug continued on after the accident without stopping, and the Coast Guard was scheduled to interview the tug’s captain.”