A 49-foot fishing boat took on water then caught fire Monday morning off Boot Key in the Middle Keys, according to the U.S. Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
FWC spokesman Officer Bobby Dube said the Miss Budweiser, a 1961 Coastwise fishing boat, was southwest of Boot Key near the Seven Mile Bridge around 10 a.m. when it started taking on water. Three men aboard jumped into the water after it caught on fire, Dube said, after which a passing boater picked them up and waited for the FWC to arrive. They were not injured, he said.
“By the time we got there the boat was in flames,” said Officer Robert Gonzales with the Marathon Coast Guard station. “We have limited firefighting capabilities so we monitored it to make sure it wouldn’t drift under the bridge, then it sank.”
He said the water in which the boat sank is about 11 feet deep and about a mile and a half offshore.
“Right now, we don’t know the start of the fire,” Gonzales said, adding whether the vessel is recovered has yet to be determined.
Gonzales said five people were also rescued near Marathon Sunday night after a call came in that the rented boat they were on was taking on water one and a half miles west of Sombrero Light.
“The initial call came in around 11 p.m.,” he said. “We got on scene and basically determined it didn’t appear to be taking on water.”
Three adults and two teenagers were taken off the 22-foot vessel from Marathon Boat Rentals and brought back to Marathon, he said.
Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219