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Spirit of Norfolk still burning after catching fire Tuesday

Posted at 9:14 AM, Jun 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-08 09:14:55-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Firefighters with Norfolk Fire-Rescue are still working to put out a fire that broke out on the Spirit of Norfolk Tuesday afternoon.

The cruise ship is currently at Naval Station Norfolk. According to the fire chief, the fire was on the naval base on the Elizabeth River. The ship is normally at Norfolk's Waterside District.

A fire was reported around 12:15 p.m. Tuesday on the ship outside of the port security barrier.

As of 12:53 p.m., the fire is not active, and passengers that were on the ship have been offloaded. The Victory Rover rescued approximately 110 personnel/passengers and headed to Town Point Park.

Two crew members remained on the vessel while it was towed to the pier, where they were then evacuated.

The fire is still burning as of 8:45 a.m. Wednesday.

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No injuries have been reported.

Naval Station Norfolk Port Operations tug boats and the Naval Station Norfolk Fire and Emergency Service, along with several nearby ships, were aiding with firefighting efforts.

Naval firefighters battle fire on the Spirit of Norfolk

Video courtesy of U.S. Navy Public Affairs

The Spirit of Norfolk has been moved to Pier 4 and will remain there until it can be safely transported back.

The Spirit of Norfolk's last inspection was in May, according to a spokesperson with the Coast Guard; the ship passed its inspection. It was also reportedly on dry dock for the entire month of March, where it went through multiple inspections.

WTKR has learned that two elementary school classes - a kindergarten class and a fifth grade class - were on the ship. We spoke with a class chaperone about the scary situation.

“I noticed that there was a weird distinct smell - like an electrical fire-type smell. [I] thought it was a little odd but didn’t think much of it... we’re out on the water; there’s Navy ships around, and then [we] started seeing a little bit of smoke. [It] got thicker and thicker, and then it was dark black smoke billowing out, then I look over the same of the deck and there’s just flames pouring out of the side of the boat," said Jason Sleeth, who was on the ship with his fifth grade class from Newport News.

A representative with the U.S. Coast Guard says right now, they're working on keeping any pollution contained, as there were 5,300 gallons of diesel on board.

The Norfolk fire battalion chief says firefighters will be putting foam on the fire because it extinguishes flames more efficiently in situations like this. She said accessibility is the main challenge because the fire is in the interior of the ship. The Chesapeake Fire Department will be providing assistance with their foam trailer.

"The City of Norfolk strives to ensure the safety and security of all residents, so this incident is of great concern to us. We have engaged our emergency personnel to provide an effective response and to mitigate the impacts from this incident," Norfolk Fire-Rescue said after the incident.

Officials with Naval Station Norfolk also provided a statement after Tuesday's fire. When asked why the base and other entities responded to a civilian vessel, Naval Station Norfolk Commanding Officer Captain David Dees said, "To us, it is not just a civilian ship. It was a vessel in need; and it had 106 passengers that needed help. And that's exactly what we all did today as a team."

A News 3 viewer sent us this video of the fire still raging:

Spirit of Norfolk still on fire

Video courtesy of @RhodiePlays/Twitter

Photo gallery: 110 passengers evacuated after Spirit of Norfolk catches fire

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