A 40-foot-long commercial tug boat caught fire Friday afternoon in Sidney while out of the water for repairs.
Chief Brett Mikkelsen of the Sidney Volunteer Fire Department said the vessel was undergoing repair on land at Vector Marine on Harbour Road when the call came in around 1 p.m.
“They [boat crews] were doing some welding up in the bow section, and it appears that some combustibles like survival suits and life jackets were left a little bit close or adjacent to the hot work, and that resulted in a fire in the bow compartment of the vessel,” he said.
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Mikkelsen said crews on board the Peggy McKenzie tried but failed to extinguish the fire before firefighters arrived. They had escaped the vessel when firefighters arrived and later received treatment from ambulance crews for precautionary reasons, he added.
“We got there quite quickly, and it was contained to its area of origin,” he said. “So at that point, I would say that there was no danger to any other vessels or the environment or anything like that.”
Ultimately, the fire was not that serious because the vessel is made out of steel. “Had it been a yacht [with more combustibles] or something like that, it would be a very much different scenario,” he said.
This said, the vessel was carrying fuel and other items such as paint and propane, said Mikkelsen. “We managed to get there quickly, get some water on it, and then use some penetrating foam to kind of suppress the fire in the little void spaces that we couldn’t immediately get to.”
Mikkelsen said two engines and 10 firefighters responded to the call, which lasted between 35 and 40 minutes.
Mikkelsen could not attach a dollar figure to the damage.
As for larger lesson, Mikkelsen praised the crew for having a fire extinguisher near their welding work. “Make sure you have an escape route and that you are not working alone — those are obviously two important things,” he added.
He also praised Vector Marine for ensuring access to the site.
“It is a busy environment down there, but they did a good job of keeping it open in the event of an emergency,” he said.