Passengers Rescued From Tour Boat After Engine-Room Fire Near Governors Island

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A fire broke out in the engine room of a sightseeing boat near Governors Island on Friday morning, prompting a dramatic rescue.

The fire began around 11:30 a.m. aboard the tour boat Jewel, which was in the East River a few hundred feet offshore near the Hugh L. Carey Battery Tunnel.

It took first responders about nine minutes to get to the ferry, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.

There were 80 passengers and four crew members aboard the boat, which can hold up to 300 people, CBS2’s Marc Liverman reported.

No injuries were reported.

The Jewel passengers were able to board rescue vessels and were then transported to safety at nearby Pier 11.

“All of a sudden, I saw police boats and helicopters all coming up,” said passenger Zubair Khan, who recorded cellphone video showing passengers moving to the front of the boat before being offloaded onto separate boats.

“They had us put on lifejackets, and then we had to evacuate,” said Tiana Shumate, another passenger.

Police said the fire was contained to the engine room even before the boat was brought back to the pier.

“We saw the smoke when we were offboarding,” Khan said. “It was at the back. We were at the front. So anyone from the back was asked to go to the front at that point and get the lifejackets.”

Firefighters told CBS2 the boat’s automatic fire extinguishers did not go off.

Passengers said they were grateful to the first responders.

“It was a pretty organized evacuation,” Khan said. “So we were not even panicked.”

They were even more grateful to be back on land — including Christoph Nocker, who is visiting New York from Austria.

“It’s fine and so we can still go to the next sightseeing tour. But now we take a bus,” he said, laughing.

Firefighters say it will be at least a few weeks before they’re able to determine what started the fire.

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