Tugboat Fire on Lake Ontario – Incident Classed as 'Major Marine Casualty'

Press Release
Thursday, March 29, 2012

USCG & Canadian safety agency begins investigation of tug fire. Chief engineer has now died in hospital.

The U.S. Coast Guard and marine safety agencies from Canada have begun their investigations into the fire aboard the towing vessel Patrice McAllister near Prince Edward Point, Ontario.

The most severely injured crewmember, the boat’s chief engineer, died in a Toronto hospital.

The 105-foot U.S.-flagged vessel was transiting on Lake Ontario from Toledo, Ohio, to a port in New York when the fire broke out in the engine room.

Another commercial towboat towed the Patrice McAllister to Clayton, N.Y.

As the federal agency responsible for marine safety aboard commercial vessels, the Coast Guard has assumed the lead for the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fire, and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has joined the investigation.

The Coast Guard will attempt to identify the cause of the fire and determine if any fire-prevention or protection requirements need to be amended or added to existing regulations for towing vessels.

Since the fire occurred while the vessel was in Canadian waters, personnel from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and Transport Canada-Marine Safety are also planning to conduct an investigation.

The incident has been classified as a major marine casualty.

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