15 rescued, 3 feared dead after fishing boat fire

SAN DIEGO -- Fifteen people, including two with severe burns, were rescued after a Mexican fishing boat caught fire off the San Diego coast late Saturday night.

Three people were presumed dead in the accident and rescuers continued a search for their bodies into Sunday evening.

A crew aboard a 42-foot vessel called "Time Machine" contacted the Coast Guard around 9:30 p.m. Saturday to report a fishing boat in flames about 30 miles south of Point Loma.

Members of that crew helped pull 15 people from the water.

"All you saw was a boat on fire and people screaming," Captain Reeve Koesterer told FOX 5. "It was nerve-wracking and scary. If we weren't there at the time, those people wouldn't be alive."

Two victims with severe burns were rushed by the Coast Guard to UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest.

“The initial call to dispatch indicated that they were full body burns to some of these patients ... They were in critical condition and they were taken to the Burn Unit at UCSD Hillcrest,” San Diego Fire & Rescue spokesman Jose Ysea told FOX 5.

The other 13 survivors were taken by boat to Ensenada, Mexico.

Mexican officials Sunday led the search effort for three more people who remained unaccounted for.

“As with any type of emergency response within the San Diego region, it’s always well-coordinated, we had Coast Guard, San Diego medic units, and San Diego Fire units -- Harbor Police also responded," Ysea explained. "It’s always a very coordinated effort whenever we have any type of incident, and this is a good example of that out in the ocean where you have all these different agencies pulling together and making rescues and saving lives."