Coast Guard dive teams are planning to try to drain the remaining fuel from a shrimping boat that caught fire late Tuesday night in Tarpon Springs, partially sinking the ship.
A Coast Guard spokesperson said crews had cleaned more than 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel from the Anclote River as of late Wednesday, but he was unsure how much more might leak out of the boat, called the "Skye Marie."
Firefighters aren't sure what sparked the flames on the ship, which was sandwiched between two other boats, one of which was docked alongside a Chevron refueling station. It took crews three hours to put out the flames; investigators aren't yet sure what started the fire and won't be able to determine a cause until the boat is moved.
Witnesses said they saw the flames shoot high into the air and across the river, briefly igniting some of the historic sponge docks. Officials said the fire caused minimal damage to the docks.
The family of the boat owner, who had just put 5,000 gallons of fuel in the boat before the fire started, said the loss of the ship is emotionally and financially devastating.
"You look at something that's been in your life this whole time, something you've grown up on, played on, went fishing on, went shrimping on and then you go from having it to seeing it just gone in a second," said Carly Caza, the owner's daughter. "It's your whole life gone right there. How do you rebuild?"
The ordeal also left members of the community in disbelief.
"This poor guy, it's over. The boat, he had no insurance and...his livelihood is over," said Shawn O'Keefe, a neighboring boat owner.
"It's a crying shame. The boat was getting ready to go out to work, that's why it was sitting where it's sitting," said Lloyd Decker, a Tarpon Springs resident. "The guys that work on the boat, it's just shut them down too."
Authorities haven't yet determined when they'll attempt to move the boat.
The boat owner's family said they plan to hold fundraisers at Pelican Point Seafood and Rusty Beillies, two restaurants in Tarpon Springs; the details haven't yet been ironed out.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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