Smoke billows from burning boat in John's Pass

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A boat fire in John's Pass sent black smoke visible to beachgoers in the Treasure Island and Madeira Beach areas earlier today.

One witness was close to the scene as it was unfolding. He says at first he thought the boat collided with something.

"There was a piece of a boat that came out, so I thought maybe he ran over a small boat," said witness Phil Henry. "But then I saw white smoke coming out of the boat."

The captain attempted to put out a fire with an extinguisher, but Henry said it wasn't much help. 

"The next thing I know, they did something where they let the boat go, and it started drifting away from the dock area, and that's when it burst into flames," he said. 

Henry said the captain appeared to be putting gas in the boat before it happened.

"That's where they gas it up," he said. "There were several people standing on the dock area, so I would assume that'd be him and his passengers. I didn't see anyone scurrying off the boat or anything like that."

Fire crews from several agencies worked to extinguish the flames both from shore and from fire boats.

Captain Dylan Hubbard, from Hubbard's Marina, watched the scene unfold from his dock.

"It took a while for the fire boat to arrive, but when they actually started pouring water on the boat, it actually pushed the vessel up into the mangroves," he said. "It looked like a really nice boat."

Hubbard says passersby stood along the marina and bridge in absolute shock through the ordeal. 

"We see a lot of manatees, and sea turtles and wildlife here from the boardwalk, dolphins included. But it's not every day that you see a boat on fire," Hubbard said.

One minor injury has been reported, but no other details were immediately available.