Coast Guard to Investigate Ferry Fire

Thursday, May 29, 2003
The Coast Guard Marine Safety Office in Juneau received notification of a fire onboard the Alaska state ferry Columbia. Personnel from the MSO will investigate the fire when the Columbia docks in Ketchikan today. The Columbia was underway in Scow Bay near the Wrangell Narrows when the number two generator caught fire at about 1:45 a.m. The other generators went down and the emergency generator automatically turned on. The crew and 165 passengers were mustered. There were no injuries. The ship’s fire team extinguished the fire and set a fire reflash watch. The crew turned the number one and three generators back on and resumed their voyage to Ketchikan. The ship is designed to need only two of the three generators to operate normally. The Columbia is expected to arrive at 11:30 a.m. in Ketchikan. Upon arrival inspectors from the Marine Safety Office in Juneau will board the ship. They will make efforts to assess the damage and determine the cause of the fire. They will also inspect the other generators to insure they do not have the same problem that caused the number two generator to catch fire. Inspectors will discuss repair proposals with personnel from the Alaska Marine Highway System. The circumstances of repairs will depend on the extent of the damage. It is unknown at this time if the Columbia will be delayed to Bellingham, Wash.

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