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A fire broke out during cutting operations on the cargo ship Golden Ray

BRUNSWICK, Georgia. – What remains of the Golden Ray, the huge ship that capsized in the St Simons Strait in September 2019, caught fire at noon Friday and initially produced a huge amount of black smoke blowing towards Jekyll Island.

Live video from a Facebook page set up to monitor the dismantling of the ship showed flames and thick black smoke sinking from the ship at 1:45 p.m. About an hour later, most of the smoke produced was white. which usually indicated that there was fuel for the fire. But at 3:45 p.m., large flames were seen again and heavy black smoke began to erupt from the vessel again.

Shortly before 5:30 p.m., Coast Guard Commander Efren Lopez gave a press briefing and said the fire broke out during cutting operations taking place on the vessel. He said the fire broke out and spread among the vehicles on board the ship.

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“All of our firefighting efforts continue and they will continue until the fire is completely extinguished,” Lopez said.

RELATED: Timeline: the many problems since the Golden Ray capsized in 2019

Lopez said all non-essential personnel were safely evacuated. He said no injuries had been reported.

Additionally, Lopez said environmental concerns were “minimal” and the fires were on the upper decks – not at sea level. He said seawater was used to suppress the fires as opposed to the fires. chemical fire extinguishers.

Conservation group Altamaha Riverkeeper said flames started shooting from the open ends and top of the Golden Ray as she watched from their boat about 300 meters away. Several muffled noises could be heard from the sinking.

“He’s on fire. You can actually hear explosions, ”said Riverkeeper Sue Inman. “It’s so hot they can’t even get close to the boat.”

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Frain, with the St. Simons Response Liaison Team, sends this statement:

According to preliminary information from the Joint Command, which led the rescue operations and now coordinates the rescue operations, the fire started at noon and then turned into a massive fire about an hour later.

“Fortunately, the ship is open at both ends, so there is a possibility that the fire could run its course rather than burn itself out,” USCG spokesman Michael Himes said. “We are convinced that the fire in itself is not a threat to the community.”

By nightfall, the fire seemed to have died down.

The 646-foot Golden Ray carried 4,200 vehicles on its capsized cargo decks, initially blocking the Port of Brunswick.

Respondents last week said they had started the fifth of the seven total cuts in the removal process.

This is not the first fire aboard the sinking, but certainly the most important.

The Altamaha River Warden told News4Jax that there was a major concern about fire contaminants entering the river. A spokeswoman said there had been a small fire in the morning which they believed was under control, then the major fire started.

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View of the Golden Ray fire from ground level. (Michael Torras)

“The Golden Ray has kind of exhausted its welcome here,” said Andy Jones, originally from St. Simons Island.

Jones provides snapshots of the removal process on his YouTube page, the Minorcan Mullet, during his daily walks to see the Golden Ray.

“Let people understand what it really takes and the sacrifices that need to be made by the community while something like this is happening,” Jones said.

Jones said those sacrifices are pollution and debris. It is a massive operation – of machinery and manpower.

“The process is taking a little longer than initially expected. The community was sold on a 24 hour discount deal that they were going to go through, ”Jones said. “It is not the case at all.”

This September will mark two years since the overthrow of the ship. The operations were filled with delays. It was a spectacle. Jones said it even boosted tourism.

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“For me the most amazing part is when the sections are lifted and placed on the barges and away from the site,” Jones said. “Just to see this huge separate room.”

With the ship open at both ends, Jones is hoping for a quick withdrawal.

“The influence of the tides entering and leaving the ship twice a day has a great influence on the ecosystem here in this estuary,” he said.

The last section of the ship left Brunswick earlier in the week on its way to a recycling plant in Louisiana, meaning half of the ship has officially left St. Simons Strait for good. Once that is all gone, there will still be work to be done.

Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax – All rights reserved.


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