Six persons escaped a fast-moving tugboat fire 8 miles off northern Florida’s Atlantic coast late Friday, according to the Coast Guard and local news media.

The Thomas Dann, a 100’x30’x13’9”, twin screw 3,000 hp tug operated by Dann Ocean Towing Company, Tampa, Fla., was with a barge owned by Express Marine Inc., Camden, N.J., when the fire was reported around 5:05 p.m. off Matanzas, Fla..

Early reports suggested the possibility of an explosion on board, with observers reporting seeing two fireballs rise from the vessel, FlaglerLive reported.

Flagler County emergency units and the Coast Guard Ponce De Leon station responded, dispatching a 45’ Response Boat Medium, while a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter launched from the Clearwater air station. Meanwhile, the tugboat crew in life vests put off in a life raft and was picked up by a fishing vessel. They were taken to the Ponce de Leon station and no injuries were reported.

The Coast Guard established a security zone around the stricken tug until the Jacksonville Fire and rescue department’s fire boat arrived. Local media reported that the fire was extinguished early Saturday morning and that the vessels were awaiting a tow.

Built in 1975, the Thomas Dann’s last major mishap was in 2012, when while towing a crane barge down New York City’s East River it snagged and pulled down scaffolding being used to repaint the Brooklyn Bridge. There was no serious structural damage.

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.