Brian McCluney and Justin Walker
Brian McCluney and Justin Walker.
The massive, multi-agency search for two firefighters who didn't return from a fishing trip off the coast of Florida last week will be called off at sundown Thursday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Brian McCluney, a firefighter with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, and Justin Walker, a firefighter with the Fairfax, Virginia, fire department, didn't return home Friday as expected after taking a 24-foot fishing boat out near Port Canaveral.

More than 20 agencies, including the Coast Guard, the Navy, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were involved in the 105,000-square-mile search for the two men. Volunteers were also searching on the land, from the air, and in the water.

Coast Guard Sector Capt. Mark Vlaun said during a news conference Thursday that the search field spanned from Central Florida to New England, a vast area that was "no longer allowing us to search with any reasonable level of degree of success."

"I've made the extremely difficult decision that we will suspend the active search at sundown," he said.

Crews were initially optimistic that the men, who have been friends since college, knew the area and fished often, would be found safe considering their line of work and McCluney's experience in the Navy.

But as the week went on, Vlaun increasingly referred to the search as a "race against time" while crews struggled to find anything that would narrow the search area down.

McCluney's tackle bag was found Monday by a volunteer 50 miles off the coast of St. Augustine, which is more than 100 miles north of Port Canaveral. Responders zeroed in on the area, but by Thursday, no other debris that could definitely be connected to the missing boat could be found.