LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Complete WINK News coverage of a massive boat fire in the Gulf of Mexico. Rescuers saved two people who jumped ship after the flames ignited.
Only WINK News spoke with the first responders who brought the husband and wife to safety. Firefighters are happy the husband and wife on that boat are ok.
A day of training turned into a real-life emergency, as Cape Coral firefighters rushed to this burning boat that burst into flames.
"Try to do the job we were sent out there to do. Find the people and deliver them to safety," said Lt. Mike Russell.
Cell phone video shows the scary situation. Lt. Russell says his only thought was about the victims. "They had jumped in the water, they treaded water for about 5 minutes with their life jackets on until a passerby saw them and came and picked them up."
Other fire departments arrived and started battling the blaze. "A marine rescue is a lot like a multi-alarm building fire. It takes a lot of people to accomplish a lot of tasks in a short amount of time," explained Cape Coral fire dept. spokesman Michael Heeder.
"Put them on our boat to make sure they were safe, try to keep them warm, provide any first aid then deliver them to the ambulance," said Lt. Russell. "They were a little upset they just lost their boat, but they were in good spirits, they were healthy. thats all that matters."
A total of ten local, state and federal agencies responded to the incident, including the Cape Coral Fire Department, Iona-McGregor, Sanibel Island, Bonita Springs, Pine Island and Estero Fire Districts joining the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Lee County EMS, the USCG and FWC.
“This is a great example of how our regional MERT program worked,” said Cape Coral Fire Department spokesman Michael Heeder.
The Marine Emergency Response Team (MERT) is a group of specially trained firefighters from around the county that are called out when there is someone in the water and a rescue boat is needed. “The MERT has been active for nearly nine years,” said Heeder. “After 9/11, the local agencies were tasked with supporting search and rescue efforts along with the Coast Guard, and grant funding helped purchase the equipment we needed.”