Fire under control, port work resumes

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By Alexia Johnston

A fishing vessel engulfed by fire was still being dealt with this week as hotspots continued to smoulder.

Firefighters were in the final stages of extinguishing the blaze on the Dong Won 701, as of Tuesday, after it caught fire on April 9.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fenz) has yet to determine what started the blaze.

The charred remains of the Korean ship are docked at PrimePort Timaru, where four crews from Wellington, Ashburton and Timaru were working to identify remaining hotspots on Tuesday.

The ship was boarded up over the weekend to starve it of oxygen to help the last two fires die out.

FENZ area commander Steven Greenyer said crews would also keep pumping water off the ship.

“That will help us to keep the ship afloat and means we can use more firefighting water on board if we need it.”

However, it might not be needed as the fire was not far from being extinguished.

“Hopefully, today or tomorrow, we will be able to hand over to the Transport Accident Investigation Commission,” he said, on Tuesday morning.

“But of course we will still be available to assist on standby.

“All agencies have worked extremely well together on this very complex fire.”

Port operations were initially suspended following the blaze, but had since resumed, PrimePort Timaru chief executive Phil Melhopt said.

“From our point of view, we are back to full operations,” he said.

However, Wharf No1, where the ship is docked, is a restricted area while crews continue work to dampen hotspots.

The commission has launched an inquiry into the fire.

Chief investigator of accidents Captain Tim Burfoot said the fire was reported to have broken out in the vicinity of the vessel’s accommodation area.

On Sunday Fenz deemed the boat safe for Environment Canterbury to place a boom around the ship. The boom will contain any oil or detritus that enters the water.

Trained oil spill responders are managing the boom and a tier-2 response remains in place, due to the risk posed by the estimated 260 tonnes of marine diesel that remains on board.