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Father’s Day cruise abruptly ends after fire erupts in the engine room

Posted at 5:46 PM, Jun 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-16 23:32:25-04

TAMPA, Fla. — A Father's Day cruise was abruptly cut short on Sunday after a fire erupted in the engine room.

No one was injured, but a lot of people were scared when a fire started on-board the Yacht StarShip dinner cruise leaving Sparkman Wharf.

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Passengers described hearing a “boom” then smelling smoke. Minutes later, crews alerted them to a fire in the engine room. They were handed life jackets and told to go to the top deck as the yacht turned around and returned to shore.

“Once we smelled the smoke we knew it was not good,” Rich Canner said. Canner was celebrating Father’s Day on the boat with his wife and four children.

“One guy came in real quick kind of almost knocked somebody over got the fire extinguisher ran back, and you could start smelling the smoke,” Canner said.

Jason Penny with the Tampa Fire Department said their crews responded within minutes. When firefighters boarded the boat, the fire in the engine room was already out.

Passengers said the captain and crew did a good job keeping everyone informed.

“Everybody was calm, the crew had everything under control, so everything overall is good,” Mehdi Belhassan said. “As long as we are with our kids we love it doesn’t matter. They started running to fire and bringing fire extinguishers, and we made a u-turn and came back to port.”

"Today during our second Father’s Day Brunch Cruise Yacht StarShip had to return to the dock as a small fire broke out in the engine room. The fire was immediately contained. There were no injuries or threat to the passengers or crew aboard. However, in abundance of caution Yacht StarShip’s Captain returned to the dock and safely evacuated all passengers. Safety is always our top priority,” Jennifer Richardson told ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska.

Richardson said all passengers would get a refund and gift certificate to take another dinner cruise.

The Coast Guard will investigate what caused the fire and if there were any violations on the boat.