SOUTH PASADENA — Two Indian Rocks Beach residents and a Boston terrier were rescued from a 38-foot fishing boat after it caught fire and sank on the Intercoastal Waterway late Tuesday morning, the U.S. Coast Guard said. No one was injured.
Brian Whitaker, 50, was taking the Wits End to Sarasota en route to Miami with a full tank of diesel fuel when, just before noon, his wife noticed smoke coming from below, he said.
They dropped anchor near the Corey Causeway and sought cover on a towboat as two propane tanks and shotgun shells aboard the fishing boat exploded. About 250 gallons of fuel did not ignite, officials said.
As fire boats from the Coast Guard, Eckerd College and Hillsborough County Fire Rescue fought the flames, Whitaker watched six years of family fishing memories disappear.
He plans to have the boat towed today. The cause of the fire has not been determined, but Whitaker thinks it started in the electrical system.
"We did not expect it to accelerate that fast," he said of the fire. "I guess that's the lesson."