Fire Sinks Boat Off Key Biscayne


Two people were rescued after a boat caught fire, prompting them to jump into the water about 6 miles south of Key Biscayne on Tuesday morning.

Natalie and Donald Hannon said they were in the waters off Key Biscayne, on their way to deliver the boat, when they started to smell something burning.

"I took the helm. My husband went down to the engine room and found a fire. So, we tried to put it out with all our fire extinguishers on board, but unfortunately we couldn't. So he came up, told me to do a mayday call while he went back down," Natalie Hannon said. "So I did a mayday, which is basically giving them a (latitude and longitude reading), how many aboard, that we were on fire, description of your vessel, grabbed the jackets and jumped in the water."

"Across the radio, we heard someone screaming, 'A boat fire!' But we could barely hear them," said Mark Houghtaling, of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.

Natalie and Donald Hannon treaded water until a boater who was in the area plucked them from the bay.

"We were only in the water about 15 minutes, 10 minutes. The Coast Guard just so happened to be flying over at the same time. There was a helicopter out there, a private yacht and a small sport fisherman that came and picked us up," Donald Hannon said.

A Miami-Dade fireboat responded the call for help and arrived to find the 56-foot Carver yacht Kemosabe engulfed in flames.

"When we rounded the corner of the Rickenbacker Causeway, we saw across the trees there on Key Biscayne just a big, black plume of smoke," Houghtaling said.

From Sky 10 overhead, firefighters could be seen spraying foam onto the burning boat as black smoke billowed from it.

The Hannons were safely transferred onto a firefighting vessel. No injuries were reported.

"We're very lucky," Donald Hammond said.

Despite firefighters' best efforts, the Kemosabe sank in the choppy shallows.

"We tried the best we could to put it out, but it was so low to the water already. It was a big hole in the side, and the water started coming through the side, and we knew we couldn't keep up with it," Houghtaling said.

"(It was) something with one of the engines. It was probably a turbo fire, which was a lot of oil," Donald Hannon said.

Copyright 2010 by Post-Newsweek Stations. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed