Fuel barges explode, causing large fire in Alabama - New York News

Fuel barges explode, causing large fire in Alabama

Posted: Updated:
A massive explosion at 3 a.m. EDT on one of the two barges still ablaze in the Mobile River in Mobile, Ala., on Thurs., April 25, 2013. Three people were injured in the blast. (AP Photo John David Mercer) A massive explosion at 3 a.m. EDT on one of the two barges still ablaze in the Mobile River in Mobile, Ala., on Thurs., April 25, 2013. Three people were injured in the blast. (AP Photo John David Mercer)

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) -- A large fire that began with explosions aboard two fuel barges in Mobile, Ala., burned into Thursday morning after injuring three people.

By approximately 8 a.m., the fire was out, said authorities.

The cause of the fire was under investigation, U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Carlos Vega said shortly before dawn Thursday.

Firefighters from Mobile and Coast Guard officials responded after 8:30 p.m. CDT Wednesday to a pair of explosions involving the gas barges in an area of the Mobile River east of downtown, authorities said. Additional explosions followed over the next few hours.

Authorities say three people were brought to University of South Alabama Medical Center after suffering burn-related injuries. The three were in critical condition early Thursday, according to hospital nursing administrator Danny Whatley.

Across the river, the Carnival Triumph, the cruise ship that became disabled in the Gulf of Mexico last February before it was towed to Mobile's port, was evacuated, said Alan Waugh, who lives at the Fort Conde Inn in downtown Mobile, across the river from the scene of the explosions. Waugh saw the blasts and said throngs of Carnival employees and others were clustered on streets leading toward the river as authorities evacuated the shipyard.

"It literally sounded like bombs going off around. The sky just lit up in orange and red," he said, "We could smell something in the air, we didn't know if it was gas or smoke." Waugh said he could feel the heat from the explosion and when he came back inside, his partner noticed he had what appeared to be black soot on his face.

Video from WALA-TV showed flames engulfing a large section of the barge, and a video that a bystander sent to AL.com showed the fiery explosions and billowing smoke over the river.

The initial blast took place in a ship channel near the George C. Wallace Tunnel -- which carries traffic from Interstate 10 under the Mobile River, Vega said. The river runs south past Mobile and into Mobile Bay, which in turn flows into the Gulf of Mexico.

The tunnels were still open and operating overnight, Mobile fire officials said in a statement.

As daybreak approached, the Mobile Fire-Rescue Department's fireboat Phoenix was moving toward the barges, checking to make sure their mooring lines were secured, the fire department said in a statement.

The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear, Huffman and Vega said.

"Once (the fire) is out and safe, a full investigation will take place," Huffman wrote.

Mobile Fire Chief Steve Dean told AL.com he was confident the fire wouldn't spread to nearby industrial properties, including the shipyard where the Carnival cruise ship is docked.

Huffman said the ship is directly across the river from the incident -- about two football fields in length.

The barges are owned by Houston-based Kirby Inland Marine, company spokesman Greg Beuerman said. He said the barges were empty and being cleaned at the Oil Recovery Co. facility when the incident began. He said the barges had been carrying a liquid called natural gasoline -- which he said is neither liquefied natural gas or natural gas. He said the company has dispatched a team to work with investigators to determine what caused the fire.

The explosion comes two months after the 900-foot-long Carnival Triumph was towed to Mobile after becoming disabled on the Gulf during a cruise by an engine room fire, leaving thousands of passengers to endure cold food, unsanitary conditions and power outages for several days. The ship is still undergoing repairs there, with many workers living on board.

Carnival didn't immediately respond to an emailed request for comment late Wednesday.

Earlier this month, the cruise ship was dislodged from its mooring by a windstorm that also caused, in a separate incident, two shipyard workers to fall into Mobile Bay. While one worker was rescued, the other's body was pulled from the water more than a week later.

------

Associated Press writers Phillip Lucas and Jeff Martin in Atlanta contributed to this report.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Friday Night Live: August 29, 2014

    Friday Night Live: August 29, 2014

    Friday, August 29 2014 11:14 PM EDT2014-08-30 03:14:33 GMT

    This is Fox 5's Friday Night Live, a weekly celebration of the end of the work week. All summer long, the Fox 5 team brings you the latest in entertainment, nightlife, food, and music in our area. In this jam-packed episode: Electric Zoo Festival, Beth Shak, Richard Albrecht, Kathy Wakile, and Moses Laboy .

    This is Fox 5's Friday Night Live, a weekly celebration of the end of the work week. All summer long, the Fox 5 team brings you the latest in entertainment, nightlife, food, and music in our area. In this jam-packed episode: Electric Zoo Festival, Beth Shak, Richard Albrecht, Kathy Wakile, and Moses Laboy .


  • Cocktails with Moses Laboy

    Cocktails with Moses Laboy

    Friday, August 29 2014 10:49 PM EDT2014-08-30 02:49:46 GMT
    Mixologist Moses Laboy came to Friday Night Live to mix up some cocktails to get us started on the holiday weekend. Born and raised in Spanish Harlem, Laboy has mixed drinks at Red Rooster, Los Americanos, Le Colonial NYC, and elsewhere. He has served drinks to President Obama and President Clinton.
    Mixologist Moses Laboy came to Friday Night Live to mix up some cocktails to get us started on the holiday weekend. Born and raised in Spanish Harlem, Laboy has mixed drinks at Red Rooster, Los Americanos, Le Colonial NYC, and elsewhere. He has served drinks to President Obama and President Clinton.
  • Business is good at Coney Island

    Business is good at Coney Island

    Friday, August 29 2014 10:22 PM EDT2014-08-30 02:22:32 GMT
    From the brand-new Thunderbolt roller coaster to the world-famous boardwalk, tourists and business owners alike say Coney Island had a great ride of its own this summer. Toms Coney Island's general manager Vasilios Tourlokas says the mild summer impacted his boardwalk business in the best way possible: a 10 to 15 percent increase.
    From the brand-new Thunderbolt roller coaster to the world-famous boardwalk, tourists and business owners alike say Coney Island had a great ride of its own this summer. Toms Coney Island's general manager Vasilios Tourlokas says the mild summer impacted his boardwalk business in the best way possible: a 10 to 15 percent increase.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices