Belfast Telegraph

Blaze on cargo ship 'accidental'

A fire on board a cargo ship in Northern Ireland is believed to have started accidentally.

At the height of the incident 50 firefighters including a specialist marine response team were involved in tackling the fire on the vessel which was docked at Warrenpoint Harbour in Co Down.

The ship had sailed from Riga in Latvia and was carrying 1,000 tonnes of animal feed.

Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service assistant chief fire officer John Allen said: "This looks like an accidental fire. This is an issue that happens with animal feed and grain - at times it is prone to self-heating."

There were no reports of any injuries to the 12 crew and there was little damage to the boat.

Fire crews in six appliances from Newry, Kilkeel, Warrenpoint and Rathfriland were called to the scene just before 8.30am this morning. A specialist ship fire unit from Belfast's Whitla station was also deployed.

They spent almost eight hours bringing two seats of fire under control.

Although the operation was slow and complex, Mr Allen said: "There was a crew of 12 but at no stage were they in any danger. There was no danger to life or the environment.

"This was a smouldering fire within the grain."

Mr Allen praised the Warrenpoint Port Authority and said its emergency response plan had worked "seamlessly".

"Although it was complex we would consider this part of our routine business.

"Thankfully no one was injured."

The fire and rescue service teams left the harbour just after 4pm.

SDLP MLA Karen McKevitt, who attended the scene, paid tribute to the emergency services.

She said: "I have to pay tribute to the quick response and utter professionalism of our brave firefighters who rushed to Warrenpoint Harbour.

"This incident once again underlines how vital our fire service is."

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