PORT RICHEY (FOX 13) - Just days after one of its vessels caught fire, Tropical Breeze Casino Cruise in Port Richey will continue operations.
FOX 13 spoke with a company employee who confirmed the news. According to the company website, departures begin daily at 11 a.m.
On Sunday, a 72-foot casino vessel, named "Island Lady," embarked with 50 people on board into the Gulf of Mexico.
During the trip, the shuttle boat caught fire forcing all to abandon ship. Passengers were seen jumping into the frigid waters to escape the flames. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Officials released the 911 calls, depicting the chaos during the incident:
Caller: “We're on Tropical Cruise Casino ... the boat just caught on fire.. we're all jumping overboard ... we're on land now.”
Emergency Operator: “I’m sorry, you're on what”
Caller: “Tropical cruise casino.. It's a casino boat.”
Emergency Operator: “Tell me exactly what happened.”
Caller: We saw smoke and now the boat is on fire. Some people jumped but most of them… fire.
Emergency Operator: “Okay, so the boat is on fire.”
Caller: Yes, big boat.. you need to get an ambulance as soon as possible.
Emergency Operator: There’s fire all over the boat.
Caller: Yes, the boat is full of people.
More than a dozen people were hurt and a 42-year-old mother of two later died at the hospital hours after the incident. Her cause of death has yet to be determined.
Tropical Breeze Casino released the following statement:
"Tropical Breeze Casino LLC wishes to extend our heartfelt sympathies to all those affected by the fire we experienced on our shuttle vessel, Island Lady, on Sunday afternoon. We were shocked to hear that one of the evacuated passengers had gone to the hospital hours after the fire and was reported to have died. our hearts go out to the passenger's family."
"We pledge to assist and cooperate with all authorities as they seek to find out what caused this fire. built in 1994, Island Lady was certified to carry up to 149 passengers. Tropical Breeze Casino began using the vessel to transport passengers beginning in late 2015. In the 2 years that the company has used it, the vessel has safely transported thousands of passengers. The vessel was most recently inspected in March 2017, and it received its renewed Certificate of Inspection at the time. The March inspection included no only a review of the vessel's interior and engine systems, but the vessel was also removed from the water for an examination of its hull."