Annabelle Lee still docked after fire


JACKSONVILLE,Fla. – The party boat Annabelle Lee remains docked after a fire broke out on the boat Saturday night. A party was happening at the time.

Forty-six people were rescued Saturday night. No injuries were reported. The boat was on the St. Johns River south of the Fuller Warren Bridge .

Capt. Montie Froehlic says he's been at the helm of the boat for 13 years and he's never seen anything like what happened Saturday night. He says the fire was contained to an area in the bottom of the boat.

"We evacuated everybody out of the bottom and put everybody on the top deck. The people were wonderful. Nobody panicked, the crew did everything they were suppose to do. The Coast Guard was excellent," said Froehlic.

The captain says the fire was put out quickly.

Froehlich says Jacksonville Fire-Rescue responded but they didn't have a boat large enough to fit everyone on.  He says they sent for their new 50-footer and it took about 45 minutes to get everyone off.

"I don't know if there was a scary moment. The fact that the passengers didn't panic is priceless. It's so much easier when everyone does what you ask them to do and they were amazing," said Froehlic.

The captain says another reason the rescue went well was because he and his crew are trained to handle situations like this.

The Jacksonville Fire Department hasn't told News4Jax about an official cause of the fire. Froehlic believes an oil seal blew, and some oil got on the engine and overheated.

The owner of the boat says he hasn't spoken to the newlyweds who were getting married when the fire started. He says they could be in Las Vegas on their honeymoon. He plans to speak with them and make things right. He wouldn't tell News4Jax what he plans to do.

The owner says he's waiting for a mechanic, and hopes to have the boat back up and running within a few days.