A crew member has been reported killed in a deadly fire that raged through a tugboat near Prince Edward Point, Ontario. According to earlier news reports, the man, a chief engineer on the vessel, had sustained serious injuries. He has now succumbed to those injuries.
At the time of the accident, there were six people on the vessel, including the victim. None of their names have been released. They sustained non life-threatening injuries. According to the US Coast Guard, the US-flagged vessel Patrice McAllister was sailing on Lake Ontario on its way from Toledo to New York. On Tuesday morning, a fire broke out in the engine room of the 105-foot vessel. Another towing vessel was able to reach the scene of the accident, and take the Patrice McAllister back to New York.
There are no further details about the fire. The Coast Guard has begun an investigation into the accident. Since this transportation accident involved a fatality, the National Transportation Safety Board will also begin its own investigations.
The fire broke out when the vessel was off Canadian waters, and therefore, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada is also likely to get involved in investigations. These investigations will focus on identifying the cause of the fire and also to determine whether there is a need for amendment of current regulations, to include more fire protection or prevention.
Maritime attorneys find that most maritime fires occur because of the improper storage or handling of inflammable materials on a vessel. Fires may also break out because of short-circuiting. Whatever the cause of the fire, maritime fires are much more difficult to control than fires that break out on land. Safe storage of inflammable materials, and adequate firefighting and life-saving gear can help reduce casualties during a fire on a vessel.