Two fuel barges exploded in Mobile, Alabama, causing critical burns and forcing evacuation of a cruise ship in the area.
Three people suffered serious burns resulting from the massive blaze that started Wednesday night and was just extinguished by firefighters, said U.S. Coast Guard spokesman, Carlos Vega. The cause of the fire is believed to have originated from a spark cleaning, the U.S. Coast Guard said, wrote FoxNews.
The three injured were transported to University of South Alabama Medical Center for burn-related injuries and were listed in critical condition, according to hospital nursing administrator Danny Whatley, said FoxNews. Following the initial blasts, explosions continued over the next several hours.
The Carnival Triumph cruise ship that was disabled in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year and was later towed to Mobile’s port, was evacuated due to the fire and explosions, said FoxNews.
WALA-TV video showed flames covering a large barge section. Kirby Inland Marine owns the barges, company spokesman Greg Beuerman told FoxNews. Beuerman said that both barges were empty and undergoing cleaning at the Oil Recovery Co. facility when the blazes started. Both barges were carrying liquid called natural gasoline; Beuerman explained that natural gasoline is neither liquefied natural gas nor natural gas, said FoxNews. The firm sent a team to collaborate with investigators, Beuerman said.
Steve Huffman, Mobile Fire-Rescue spokesman issued a statement that the cause of the fire was, as yet, undetermined, said National Public Radio (NPR).
Meanwhile, said NPR, WALA-TV said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Mike Clausen stated that initial reports suggested only one barge exploded and that the first of a number of additional explosions began at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Clausen also told the TV station that a “clean operation” was underway at the time of the blasts and it was not known how much, if any, natural gasoline was on board at the time of the barge explosion.
Although WALA only mentioned the involvement of one barge. The Associated Press (AP) and other news outlets report that two barges were involved, said NPR.
In related news. The 900-foot-long Carnival Triumph cruise ship was towed to Mobile two months ago after it became disabled on the Gulf following an engine room fire. The fire, which occurred during a cruise, left thousands of passengers and crew with unsanitary conditions, power outages, and cold food. The ship, said FoxNews, continue to undergo repairs and workers are living on board.
This month, the Triumph was dislodged from its mooring by a windstorm that caused another incident in which two shipyard workers fell into Mobile Bay. One worker was rescued, said FoxNews; tragically, the other worker’s body was pulled from the bay more than one week later.