Seattle Firefighters Combat Barge Fire

SEATTLE- On June 26, 2018, at 8:15 p.m., multiple reports of a large black column of smoke from the 600 block of S Myrtle St. were received at the Fire Alarm Center. A Marine Fire response was immediately initiated by the Fire Alarm Dispatcher.                                                                                   

Upon arrival fire crews discovered a large barge with over 30 feet of vertical storage containing recycled metals including crushed automobiles with a large volume of fire engulfing a major portion of the cargo. As crews secured water supply lines and began suppression efforts it became apparent the incident was evolving into a Hazardous Materials event in addition to the fire suppression challenge. Explosions were heard as these fuels and compressed propane began to ignite.

Land-based suppression efforts were effective in retarding the fire’s growth until the arrival of the Fire Boat. With the combined land and water-based fire attacks the blaze was brought under control in relatively short order.

Once the fire was under control, crane operators from the affected facility were instrumental in removing the debris to allow firefighters to extinguish hard to reach hot spots, an effort that continued for another five hours, but was necessary to ensure a complete extinguishment effort.

As the event unfolded other agencies were able to assist with environmental protection. The Coast Guard, EPA and SDOT enacted a plan to deploy boom protection for potential spill containment while also evaluating street drain impacts. Additionally, King County Airport provided a Crash Truck to increase the foam resources which was pivotal to address the hazards posed by the various types of burning material.

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries from the intense labor effort.

Fire Investigators determined the cause to be accidental in nature and provided an initial damage estimate of $1,000,000.

Capt. S. Stephenson