As the boat turned back to the dock, scores of passengers jumped into the water to escape.
By early Sunday evening, all passengers had been accounted for.
Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point spokesman Kurt Conover said Monday the passenger died late Sunday, hours after the 4 p.m. fire. Fifteen passengers had experienced chest pain, smoke inhalation and other injuries.
"He went back in the water several times and helped other people get out because people got stuck in the mud, some people were crawling trying to get to shore", said Shelia McAfee said.
The fire erupted on one of the coldest days of the year in the Tampa area.
Lows dipped down to 38 degrees Sunday in nearby Tampa.
Hypothermia was a danger for survivors as temperatures were unseasonably cold in the Tampa Bay region - with air temperatures low as 43 degrees Sunday and water temperature 59 degrees. A small boat took them to the burnt-out remains of the boat.
Falcone said the shuttle destroyed in the fire was their one and only but it's a small price to pay knowing nobody was killed.
Darrell and his wife Shelia swam to shore, but Darrell didn't stop there.
The Pasco County Sheriff's Office originally identified the boat as the SunCruz casino shuttle, which was its former name, Fifer said. "These people had been totally submerged in the water".
"I just want to make sure they're okay, and you know, it's hard, because you want to try to save them", Jandali's mother, Hala Sahloul, said.
"All of us, my family and the neighbors, brought them towels and water", Jandali said.
The shuttle boat takes gamblers three miles offshore, where a casino boat floats in global waters.
The casino boat was headed towards global waters after it embarked from port in Pasco County, just north of Tampa.
Once the fire is extinguished, officials will begin an investigation to determine the cause.