2 people, dog rescued from burning sailboat just off Ocean City this morning

     (Photo courtesy of Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class David Micallef)

    (Photo courtesy of Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class David Micallef)

    Coast Guard officials say two people and a dog were rescued after their sailboat caught fire and sank off the coast of southern New Jersey.

    It’s not clear what sparked the fire aboard the 46-foot sailboat, which was reported around 10:50 a.m. Sunday.

    At the time, the boat was about three miles off Ocean City. Beachgoers reported seeing a dark plume of smoke out over the water. 

    The two people in the boat were able to put on life jackets and safely evacuate after the fire started and were in their dinghy when Coast Guard rescue crews arrived on scene about 10 minutes later.

    The Ocean City Police Department also assisted in the rescue, according to a Coast Guard release. 

    “The owner’s understanding of emergency procedures allowed for quick Coast Guard response,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Neena Santiago, an operations specialist at the Sector Delaware Bay command center, in the release. “His vessel was equipped with a VHF marine radio, life jackets and a dinghy — all crucial to the safety of the people aboard and their dog.”

    No injuries were reported.

    The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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