Authorities Issue Shelter-In-Place Order After Fishing Vessel Goes Up In Flames

[Screenshot/YouTube/KING 5 Seattle]

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Fire officials in Washington state issued a shelter-in-place order after a fire on a shipping vessel caused an explosion and worsening fire conditions.

Tacoma Fire Department officials have warned residents of Northeast Tacoma, Browns Point and Dash Point neighborhoods to limit their time outdoors after a moored fishing boat in the Hylebos Waterway caught fire and exploded over the weekend, according to KING-TV.

Authorities were alerted to the fire around 3 a.m. Saturday morning after a security guard for Trident Seafoods noticed smoke coming from the vessel. As a result, three engineers were evacuated to safety as the fire began to spread. “We were very fortunate that the fire was quickly spotted and reported and the crew onboard was able to safely evacuate,” US Coast Guard Lt. Stephen Nolan told the outlet. (RELATED: Coast Guard Rescues Hundreds Of Passengers From Ferry On Fire)

As fire crews worked to battle the flames, an acetylene tank on the ship exploded Sunday night just before 9 p.m, worsening fire conditions. Though officials state there were no injuries or toxic pollution linked to the explosion, the ship  is reportedly carrying 55,000 gallons of diesel fuel as well as 19,000 pounds of freon, KING-TV reported.

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) revealed that the fire is approximately 100-feet from the freon tanks. While there is concern the heat from the fire can cause pressure to build up within the tanks, they “are designed with built-in heat-activated pressure relief valves which are designed to release the freon tanks’ pressure in an emergency situation,” USCG stated in a press release.

“While freon can be toxic if inhaled in large quantities or in a confined space, the release of freon into the atmosphere is not expected to pose any health and safety risks to the public,” USCG continued. Out of an abundance of caution, the Tacoma Fire Department issued a temporary shelter-in-place order as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducts air quality testing to ensure public safety, the release stated.

“The safety of the public and responders is our top priority,” USCG Capt. Youngmee Moon, the Federal On Scene Coordinator, stated in the release. “The unified command is working closely to leverage each agency’s capabilities to respond to this incident as effectively as possible and keep the public safe.”

To prevent maritime pollution, three layers of containment boom have been placed around the vessel to protect the marine environment, the press release stated.