Two People Hurt in Florida Sailboat Fire

STUART -- Fire-Rescue responded to a marine fire Sunday morning in the St. Lucie River by the Roosevelt Bridge. A 42-foot sailboat was towed to Shepard Park in Stuart after catching fire. The fire was reported at 9:59 a.m., Sunday near the Sailor's Return restaurant at 625 S.W. Anchorage Way.

The boat was fully engulfed in flames as the officers arrived, said Stuart police spokesman Officer Brian Bossio in a released statement. Two adults were able to escape the fire and were transported to Martin Memorial Medical Center North.

Bossio said the two are being treated for smoke inhalation and are expected to be OK.

Stuart police say they are looking into reports of an individual who was unable to escape.

"Fire crews are still on scene and this is a very active investigation," the statement said.

"We don't have true confirmation that anyone else was on the boat," SPD PIO Brian Bossio.

"They do have a child but they don't know if he was on board the boat or not," said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission PIO Amanda Phillips said at a news conference early Sunday afternoon. "Its all hearsay, we don't have true confirmation that there was anyone else on the boat, but we are looking into it."

There were propane tanks on the boat but investigators haven't said what caused the fire.

"There was explosion consistent with a propane tank being on board after the fire was already active," Bossio said. "So we don't know what caused the initial fire."

The FWC, Stuart Police Department, Coast Guard and Martin County Fire Rescue responded to the fire.

"All the agencies that were here together were able to work hand in hand," Phillips said. "The main focus was to get the fire out and the boat that was on fire away from the situation."

Witnesses described the scene as the boat went ablaze.

"It was just disbelief for one with all the billowing black smoke and red hot flames," said LeAnn Ball, of the Sunset Bay Marina. "You could hear the screaming because it all happened very fast."

Sunday's boat fire occurred just south of the 198-slip Sunset Bay Marina and Anchorage in downtown Stuart on the St. Lucie River just south of the old Roosevelt Bridge. The sailboat was anchored east of the 69-buoy mooring field there and just a few dozen yards south of the marina's south dock.

Shortly after the fire began, a thick plume of black smoke could be seen from as far away as Jensen Beach, North River Shores, Lighthouse Point and Palm City.

Copyright 2014 - Treasure Coast Newspapers, Stuart, Fla.