TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Fire crews rushed to put out the flames at a marina in Punta Gorda Friday after witnesses reported hearing an explosion followed by heavy black smoke.
“My wife Gail and I were in the house and heard an explosion — didn’t quite know it was an explosion, it was a large boom,” resident Craig Langway told WBBH.
Fire crews were called to the Riviera Marina on Deltona Drive in Punta Gorda where they found several large vessels on fire.
Langway said he heard the explosion come from the engine compartment of a large blue boat before a fire quickly spread to vessels tied up nearby.
“Initially it was the big blue one, but there were boats within 20 feet of it, so you could see them getting consumed with it over time.”
Access to a nearby bar and grill was shut down for several hours as crews extinguished the flames. All told, an estimated seven to nine boats were affected or destroyed by the fire, officials told News Channel 8.
The Charlotte County Fire Marshal, DEP, and Coast Guard were all investigating the incident and working to contain the fuel and oil spills caused by the burning boats.