When fire erupted on a passenger vessel cruising Florida’s Pithlachascotee River earlier this year, all aboard had to jump from the burning vessel and wade – or crawl - ashore. One person died and 14 others were transported to area hospitals. The Island Lady was so badly damaged it was declared a total loss.

That January 14 incident near Port Richey, Florida, will be the subject of a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) meeting next month, during which the agency will determine the probable cause of the fire.

What we know

The Island Lady had 53 people aboard when at about 4 p.m. the captain received a high-temperature alarm for the port engine’s jacket-water system. The captain turned the vessel to return to the dock, and during the return trip, smoke began filling the lazarette, main deck spaces and the engine room. The captain then intentionally beached the vessel close to shore in shallow water. All passengers, crew and company employees evacuated the Island Lady by jumping off the burning vessel and make their way to the shore.

Who's involved

The U.S. Coast Guard is the lead investigative federal agency for the accident. Parties to the NTSB’s investigation include Tropical Breeze Casino Cruz, LLC, Ring Power Corporation (the propulsion engine manufacturer’s service representative) and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The public meeting will be held in the NTSB Boardroom and Conference Center, 420 10th St., SW, Washington on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 9:30 a.m. (EST). It will also be webcast.  A link for the webcast will be available at http://ntsb.windrosemedia.com/ shortly before the start of the meeting.