Boat catches fire near Key Biscayne, no injuries
NEAR KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Rescue crews responded to a boat fire a-mile-and-a-half south of the Rickenbacker Causeway near Key Biscayne, Friday.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue officials said the vessel, a 41-foot 1983 Viking yacht named "Valhalla," was engulfed in flames by the time firefighters arrived at the scene, just after 2 p.m. U.S. Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife officials were also present at the blaze. The dark smoke cloud billowing from the powerboat stretched across the Downtown Miami skyline.
According to FWC spokesman Jorge Pino, boat owner John Rodnay Francis had just purchased the vessel and was heading back home to north Palm Beach County with a male passenger. The boaters had anchored Valhalla on the south side of the Rickenbacker Causeway near Key Biscayne, when they smelled and saw smoke coming from inside the boat.
"They opened the lower compartment and they were actually looking at flames," said Pino. The occupants then compiled all their important documents. "They made the decision that it was in their best interest to just jump in the water after they gathered their belongings," said Pino. "It's a good thing they did do that, because obviously, you not only need to be concerned for the flames, but there are a lot combustible things on board that vessel, and an explosion could very easily occur."
FWC officials said some Good Samaritans boating in the area saw the smoke coming from Valhalla. They picked up the stranded boaters and brought them to a Coast Guard Cutter, which took them to the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club in Coconut Grove. Neither Francis nor the other occupant suffered any injuries.
The boat's flames disappeared into the depths of Biscayne Bay as Valhalla eventually sank into the ocean. They were unable to tow it to shore.
FWC investigators are looking into the cause of the blaze.
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