More than 100 persons, many of whom were elementary school children, were safely evacuated after a fire broke out near the stern of the Spirit of Norfolk dining cruise near Naval Station Norfolk in the US on Tuesday.
Commercial tugs and crews from the US Navy, Coast Guard, and local fire departments were dispatched in reaction to the situation. Fortunately, there were no injuries.
The Spirit of Norfolk was near Naval Station Norfolk when the incident was reported just after noon.
According to the commanding officer of Naval Station (NAVSTA) Norfolk, Captain David Dees, there were 106 passengers on board. There were a few crew members on board as well. A representative for the vessel’s operator said there were 89 students among the passengers.
From the naval base’s shore, smoke and flames could be seen.
Two tugboats and firefighting teams from Naval Station Norfolk, the US Coast Guard, and Norfolk Fire and Rescue were involved in the firefighting effort. The Spirit of Norfolk was towed near Pier 4 at Naval Station Norfolk, where firefighting activities were expected to last until the late afternoon.
According to reports, many passengers were evacuated to the Victory Rover tour boat. It was unclear how many passengers and crew members were evacuated to the Victory Rover instead of being carried to the naval base’s shore.
The fire started in the ship’s engine room, according to officials.
At a late-afternoon press briefing, Captain Jennifer Stockwell, Deputy Commander of US Coast Guard Sector Virginia, stated that the fire was still active.
City Experiences (City Cruises), a subsidiary of Hornblower Group, operates the Spirit of Norfolk. The ferry has a 372-person capacity. The vessel was hosting a school group of 89 students, according to a City Cruises representative.
“Today Spirit of Norfolk suffered an on board fire while servicing a school group of 89 students. Our on board crew acted swiftly and immediately notified first responders upon notice of the incident and brought all 106 passengers and crew safely ashore. On behalf of City Cruises, I would like to thank the local authorities, including the Norfolk Naval Station, the Coast Guard, and our local fire departments for working so quickly to ensure that all of our passengers and crew made it safely ashore.”
#VIDEO: First responders aid in firefighting efforts at Naval Station Norfolk Pier 4 after the Spirit of Norfolk catches on fire Tuesday.
— WAVY TV 10 (@WAVY_News) June 7, 2022
Multiple agencies currently at Pier 4 and NOB working a boat fire on the Spirit of Norfolk. Much thanks to all agencies and neighboring jurisdictions for the assistance- will update more soon! pic.twitter.com/NmXRlnqPgq
— Norfolk Fire-Rescue (@norfolkfireresc) June 7, 2022