The National Transportation Safety Board determined
that the probable cause of the fire on board the Shuttle Express II was a fractured, improperly installed fuel-injection line
on the inboard side of the starboard engine that allowed diesel fuel to spray onto the engine and ignite. Contributing to the cause of the fire was the failure of Paradise of Port Richey, the operator of the vessel, to have a preventive maintenance program, which could have identified the company's ongoing problems with the vessel's fuel lines before the failed line led to the fire.
"Proper training on the replacement of the fuel line would have prevented this fire, which could have endangered the lives of the passengers who had just departed the boat minutes earlier," said Mark V. Rosenker
, Acting Chairman of
On October 17, 2004, a fire broke out in the engineroom of the Express Shuttle
II in the Pithlachascotee River near Port Richey
. The U.S. small passenger vessel was returning from the Gulf of Mexico
, where it had ferried 78 passengers to a casino boat offshore. The master and two deckhands were the only persons onboard when the fire occurred. After attempting to fight the fire with portable fire extinguishers, the crew abandoned the vessel. A passing recreational boater rescued the crew. One member of the crew was treated at the local hospital for smoke inhalation. The boat, valued at $800,000, was a total loss.
Contributing to the extent of the damage were the vessel's faulty fire detection system and the crew's failure to employ proper marine firefighting techniques.