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Over 100 passengers rescued after Spirit of Norfolk fire


NORFOLK, Va. – Norfolk Fire-Rescue firefighters are still working to extinguish a fire that broke out on the Spirit of Norfolk Tuesday afternoon.

The cruise ship is currently at Naval Station Norfolk. According to the fire chief, the fire was at the naval base on the river. The ship is normally in the Waterside district of Norfolk.

A fire was reported around 12:15 p.m. on the ship outside the port security barrier.

At 12:53 p.m., the fire is not active and the passengers who were on board the ship have been disembarked. The Victory Rover rescued approximately 110 people/passengers and proceeded to Town Point Park.

Two crew members remained on the vessel as it was towed to dock, and they have now been evacuated.

United States Navy Public Affairs

No injuries were reported.

Tugboats from Naval Station Norfolk Port Operations and Naval Station Norfolk Fire and Emergency Service, along with several nearby vessels, assisted in the firefighting efforts.

Navy firefighters fight fire on the Spirit of Norfolk

Video courtesy of US Navy Public Affairs

The Spirit of Norfolk has been moved to Pier 4 and will remain there until it can be safely brought back.

News 3 has learned that two elementary school classes – a kindergarten class and a fifth grade class – were on the ship. We spoke with a class chaperone about the scary situation.

“I noticed there was a distinct strange smell – like an electric fire smell. [I] I thought that was a little weird but didn’t think much about it…we’re on the water; there are navy ships around, and then [we] started to see some smoke. [It] got thicker and thicker, then there was black, black smoke coming out, then I look over the same deck and there’s only flames coming out of the side of the boat,” said said Jason Sleeth, who was on the ship with his fifth class from Newport News.

A representative from the US Coast Guard said that at this time they were working to contain any pollution as there were 5,300 gallons of diesel on board.

The Norfolk Fire Battalion Chief said firefighters will put foam on the fire as it puts out the flames more effectively in situations like this. She said accessibility is the main challenge because the fire is inside the ship. The Chesapeake Fire Department will provide assistance with their foam trailer.

“The City of Norfolk is working to ensure the safety and security of all residents, so this incident is of great concern to us. We have engaged our emergency personnel to provide an effective response and mitigate the impacts of this incident,” said Norfolk Fire-Rescue said after the incident.

Naval Base Norfolk officials also provided a statement after Tuesday’s fire. When asked why the base and other entities responded to a civilian ship, Captain David Dees, Commanding Officer of Naval Base Norfolk, said: ‘For us it’s not just a civilian ship . It was a ship in need; and it had 106 passengers who needed help. And that’s exactly what we all did today as a team.”

As of 8 p.m., firefighters said crews were still on the scene putting out the blaze.

A News 3 viewer sent us this video of the still raging fire:

Spirit of Norfolk still on fire

Video courtesy of @RhodiePlays/Twitter

Photo gallery: 110 passengers evacuated after Spirit of Norfolk fire




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