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Boat fire on Tampa Bay causes occupants to jump off

Fire and a possible explosion on a 20-foot vessel caused its two occupants to jump into Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Fire officials responded to a boat fire on the west side of Tampa Bay Sunday.
Fire officials responded to a boat fire on the west side of Tampa Bay Sunday. [ Jillian Jacek ]
Published Jul. 19

Two people were forced jump from a boat after a possible explosion on the vessel Sunday, according to Clearwater Fire & Rescue.

At 4:53 p.m. Clearwater Fire & Rescue received reports of a boat on fire on the west side of Tampa Bay. By the time first responders made it to the approximately 20-foot boat, the vessel was engulfed in flames.

Luis Gomez and Julie Gomez, both 48, were forced to jump from their vessel and were later picked up by good Samaritans, who took them to land. They were treated by Clearwater paramedics, said John Klinefelter, health and safety chief for Clearwater Fire & Rescue.

Both were taken to the hospital with injuries not considered life threatening.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard are investigating the cause of the fire, Klinefelter said.

People on personal watercraft also had tried to put out the fire with sprays from their vessels, said Jillian Jacek, a witness.

It took about 5 minutes to put out the fire after officials arrived, Klinefelter said.

Jillian Jacek, a witness, photographed a person on a personal watercraft trying to extinguish a boat fire Sunday.
Jillian Jacek, a witness, photographed a person on a personal watercraft trying to extinguish a boat fire Sunday. [ Jillian Jacek ]