Explosions aboard fuel barges on Wednesday sparked a series of fires on the Mobile River in Alabama that had burned out by Thursday morning, but not before forcing the evacuation of the beleaguered Carnival Cruise Lines’ Triumph which was berthed nearby.
The cause of the explosions is still under investigation, said Lt. Michael Clausen with the U.S. Coast Guard, but authorities believe a spark or ignition source ignited gasoline vapors within the barges.
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Three personnel aboard the barges were transported to the University of South Alabama Medical Center with burn-related injuries. One was in critical condition, officials said.
After the first explosion, the Coast Guard established a one-mile nautical-mile safety zone around the barges, which were empty natural gas barges. They had been docked for cleaning at the time of the explosions, according to ABC News.
The barges are owned by Kirby Inland Marine, a Channelview, Texas-based company that operates “the nation’s largest fleet of inland tank barges and towing vessels,” according to its website.
A hazardous materials team was sent in by the Mobile Fire and Rescue Department to check for any dangerous chemicals aboard the barges. The team determined Thursday that “no further hazards exist,” according to their Twitter feed.
The evacuation of the Triump, docked nearby while undergoing repairs, was mandated by Carnival, not the Coast Guard or fire department, according to Claussen.
About 800 crew members who evacuated returned to the ship
Thursday morning, according to NBC's Local 15.
The Triumph is the same ship that was stranded in the Gulf of Mexico
back in February. A nightmarish five days in the gulf was an unbelievable test of patience for 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew members, after a fire that broke out in the engine room and caused most of the ship's electrical power to go out. Refrigerators full of food and sanitary systems went out, causing sewage to slosh on the ship's floors as vacationers starved.
The Mobile port where Triumph evacuated is the same port the besieged ship arrived at after the horrible five days astray in the gulf.
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