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Search continues for firefighters missing after Port Canaveral fishing trip

Orlando Sentinel logoOrlando Sentinel 8/19/2019 Lisa Maria Garza, David Harris
Port Canaveral, Florida, USA, Overview of a cement works. (Photo by: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images) © Photo by: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images Port Canaveral, Florida, USA, Overview of a cement works. (Photo by: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)

The search continued overnight for two off-duty firefighters who went missing Friday on a fishing trip from Port Canaveral.

The boaters, Brian McCluney and Justin Walker, left a ramp near Jetty Park in a 24-foot center console and were headed toward 8A reef. They were supposed to return Friday evening and a family member called the Coast Guard when they didn’t come back.

The U.S. Coast Guard along with the Brevard County Sheriff, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Navy searched through late Sunday about 20,029 square miles so far via boat and plane since late Friday to no avail.

Volunteers joined the agencies in searching the coastlines of south Georgia to Port Canaveral. For a short period Sunday afternoon, there was hope that the boat had been spotted.

The pilot of a private plane told authorities about a possible sighting of a vessel matching the boat’s description but that turned out to be a false alarm.

The civilian pilot reported the vessel sighting about 50 miles east of Jacksonville, the Coast Guard said.

a truck parked on the side of a boat © Provided by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

After the tip from the civilian pilot, a Coast Guard search plane diverted and located a cooler and life jackets in the water. But the debris did not belong to McCluney or Walker.

McCluney is a firefighter with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department and Walker is a firefighter in Fairfax, Virginia.

On Sunday morning, about 50 firefighters launched 11 boats and joined the search for the missing men out of Vilano Beach and Daytona Beach.

“Want to know about our bond with each other? These are the times that we come together to accomplish amazing things,” the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department tweeted.

Authorities said they are widening the scope of the search in the area.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville Command Center at 904-714-7558.

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