Cruise Ship Catches Fire in Florida

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -- A fire broke out Sunday on a gambling cruise ship, sending about 160 people on board scrambling for the top deck, officials said. Several passengers were treated for minor smoke inhalation.

The fire on the SunCruz Casino cruise ship was reported in the engine room about half an hour after it left for a five-hour sail from nearby Hollywood, Coast Guard Petty Officer Anastasia Burns said.

The blaze was extinguished about three hours later, after the ship was towed into Port Everglades, she said. The 160-foot ship was not evacuated before it docked.

``The whole boat filled with smoke,'' said Betty Davis, a passenger from Fort Lauderdale. ``And without the motor going, the boat was really rocking around.''

About a dozen people were examined as a precaution after the ship docked, but all were released, said Lt. David Erdman of the Broward County fire department. Some were treated for minor smoke inhalation, according to the Coast Guard.

Firefighters reached the ship while it still was at sea and sealed the engine room's doors to contain the blaze, Erdman said.

Eight rescue boats, two firefighting tugs and a Coast Guard helicopter were sent to help. Passengers were sent to the outdoor top deck and were given life vests.

The cause of the fire was unknown. An investigation was planned, Burns said.

Leslie Ford, a ticket sales representative for SunCruz, had no other details of the incident. The ship's evening sail was canceled, Ford said.

The cruise line's ships feature slot machines and table games.

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