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Family Safely Escapes Boat Blaze

SUNNY ISLES (CBSMiami) – A family's plan of spending the night on their boat changed suddenly with the sound of a smoke alarm.

Four adults, a 17-month-old and two dogs were on board the 33-foot Sea Ray Cabin Cruiser in the waters off Bay Harbor Islands when the smoke alarm sounded.

"The smoke alarm went off and when we went inside to check the smoke was coming out of the side of the boat. We went inside right away and we got the kid out and we jumped," Raul Varela explained.

All passengers aboard, dogs included, were able to escape the fiery boat without injuries by way of a dinghy.

Varela heard explosions as the family escaped.

"That was scary. That was scary," he said.

Captain Charles Hansen with Fast Response Marine Towing responded to the call.

"I tried to fight the fire with my pump but it was insufficient so I radioed the Coast Guard. I told them to get the fire crew by the bridge," said Hansen.

Chief Gary Fregeolle from Miami Dade Fire Rescue had Hansen tow the boat toward a bridge so they could spray water.

"It's very difficult to maneuver. I was towing off the vessel's anchor chain since I didn't have time to pull up the anchor. At some point it got wrapped up in my propeller and I almost collided with it on fire so it was quite risky but all in all it turned out well," said Hansen.

There was not much left on the boat to salvage, but Varela and the rest of his family are thankful for their escape, and better yet their smoke detector.

"That's why you've got to keep the alarms on those things at all times," said Varela.

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