PALM HARBOR — The U.S. Coast Guard and Palm Harbor Fire Rescue came to the aid of 17 people stranded on two boats Sunday night after one of the vessels lost its navigation lights and the other ran aground, setting off a flare that started a fire on Three-Rooker Bar.
The Coast Guard received a distress call about 11:30 p.m. Sunday from the vessels that had been boating together, Coast Guard spokeswoman Mariana O'Leary said. One of the boats, a 27-foot Chris-Craft vessel with nine passengers, ran aground in the low tide. At the same time, eight passengers on a nearby 17-foot Bayliner realized their navigation lights were not functioning.
The Bayliner without lights was escorted back to shore, while all but seven of the nine passengers on the Chris-Craft were taken back to land on a Coast Guard boat. The other two passengers waited for high tide and were able to maneuver the boat out of shallow waters early Monday morning, O'Leary said.
No one was injured on the boats. But the fire on Three-Rooker Bar grew to roughly the size of a semitrailer before firefighters quelled it using buckets of seawater, Palm Harbor Fire Rescue spokeswoman Liz Monforti said.