NATIONAL NEWS

Lithium-ion battery fire in a cargo ship’s hold is out after several days of burning

Dec 31, 2023, 11:08 AM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — After lithium-ion batteries burned in a large cargo ship’s hold for a number of days, the U.S. Coast Guard said late Saturday that the fire was out and directed the ship to anchor near Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

The 19 crew members of the ship, Genius Star XI, were uninjured and technicians from the Salvage and Marine Firefighting team remain onboard to ensure the fire doesn’t return, according to a Coast Guard press release.

“This protected anchorage … will allow the vessel to remain stable, minimizing risk of any re-flash of the fire as we continue our response,” Capt. Chris Culpepper said in the press release, which said an investigation into the fire’s origins will begin once response efforts wrap up.

Genius Star XI was shipping lithium-ion batteries from Vietnam to San Diego. The crew alerted the Coast Guard early Thursday morning to the fire, after pumping carbon dioxide into hold No. 1 — where the blaze began — and sealing it, fearing an explosion.

The Coast Guard diverted the 410-foot (125-meter) cargo ship to Dutch Harbor, one of the nation’s busiest fishing ports located in Unalaska, an Aleutian Islands community about 800 miles (1,287 kilometers) southwest of Anchorage.

Arriving Friday, Genius Star XI was kept 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from shore to mitigate the risks of toxic gases produced by the fire to the community and environment while responders worked to extinguish the flames, Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Mike Salerno said in an email to The Associated Press.

There have been no oil leaks associated with the fire, according to the ship’s owners, Wisdom Marine Group.

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Lithium-ion battery fire in a cargo ship’s hold is out after several days of burning