May 10, 2021 - News

Jet Skiers save the day on the Hillsborough River

A boat up in flames on the water, with black smoke billowing overhead and another boat nearby

Photo courtesy of Marlo Ramos

Jet Skiers are a much maligned bunch on the Hillsborough River, due to their loud music and notorious wake-causing speeds. But a few of them did something good recently.

What happened: When a boat caught fire near the Lowry Park Boat Ramp around 11am Sunday, Tampa Fire Rescue responded quickly but faced a predicament.

  • When firefighters began battling the buoyed blaze, the rope holding the boat in place snapped.
  • Pressure from the firehoses sent the flaming 22-foot vessel out into the river like a funeral pyre, putting the homes and docks nestled on the east side of the river in tremendous peril.

But then: Several men on Jet Skis sped toward the boat and began riding in circles between ship and shore, "doing doughnuts," witnesses said, and creating enough wake to send the smoking hulk back toward the firehoses.

What they're saying: "It was, like, the most Florida moment ever," a witness told the Tampa Bay Times. "These guys coming down the river on Jet Skis started circling the fiery boat and splashing it with their wake, kind of coaxing it back towards the firefighters."

The intrigue: And then they were gone, nameless heroes speeding off downriver.

  • Said one riverfront resident: "Everyone gave the Jet Skis a one-time pass to blast a wake."

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