Wedding party evacuated from party boat after fire

By Jim Piggott, General assignment reporter, jpiggott@wjxt.com
Chris Robbins, Evening newscast producer, crobbins@wjxt.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 12:09:17 PM EDT
Updated On: Aug 03 2014 08:13:16 AM EDT

VIDEO: The Annabelle Lee has been towed back after a fire in the engine room left it stranded. The boat was out on the river for a wedding party when the fire began.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Authorities say 46 passengers and crew were evacuated the Annabelle Lee party boat that caught fire Saturday on the St. Johns River south of the Fuller Warren Bridge.

The Coast Guard said the 98-foot long cruise vessel experienced a fire in the engine room just before 8 p.m. became disabled.

No injuries were reported.  A Jacksonville Fire-Rescue response boat crew picked up the cruise ship passengers and brought them to shore.

Linda Disney said a wedding party was having a toast when the fire broke out.

"All of a sudden we saw some smoke and they said, 'The engine is on fire!' then we went upstairs and had to put life jackets on, so that was interesting," Disney said.

Coast Guard crews from Station Mayport responded with Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

"Anytime you've got a report of a commercial vessel, it's a big deal. When you're out in the middle of the river, it can be dangerous. So we take that very seriously. Whatever fire was in the engine room we kept contained in the engine room," said JFRD Chief Martin Senterfitt.

The Coast Guard and another JFRD vessel were towing the disabled Annabelle Lee to it's mooring near The Jacksonville Landing around 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

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