A fire on a ship carrying 3,000 cars off the Netherlands coast is suspected of being started by an electric vehicle and killed one sailor, “could burn for days,” the Dutch Coast Guard told AFP News.
The fire broke out late Tuesday night on board the roll-on, roll-off ship the Fremantle Highway off the northern Dutch coast. “The fire could still burn for days,” stated a coastguard official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“The ship is being cooled to keep it stable.
“Only the side of the ship is being sprayed, not the deck,” said the official.
Fremantle Highway is carrying 3,000 vehicles. Of those vehicles, 25 are EVs, a coastguard official told the NOS public broadcaster, adding there is suspicion that one of those 25 EVs started the blaze.
De rederij heeft een bergingsmaatschappij opdracht gegeven de #FremantleHighway te bergen zodra dit mogelijk is. Wij hebben inmiddels een schip op locatie en houden onder andere toezicht op het bergen. De scheepvaartroute is vrij toegankelijk: https://t.co/vZXh4nRjPl pic.twitter.com/L4YJBX0ybr
— Rijkswaterstaat (@Rijkswaterstaat) July 26, 2023
Der Brand konnte bisher nicht gelöscht werden. Zwei Schiffe kühlen aktuell den Rumpf und weitere Bergungsspezialisten sind auf dem Weg.pic.twitter.com/wqVF9nN5gX
— romestylez (@romestylez) July 26, 2023
Rescue ships and helicopters have evacuated 23 crew members. However, one individual lost their life due to the fire.
Should the vessel sink, “it would be a disaster of the highest order,” the daily paper De Telegraaf said.
Bloomberg ship tracking data shows Fremantle Highway left the German port of Bremen on Tuesday. The vessel appears to have deviated off course around 5 pm local time Tuesday, an indication of possibly when the fire broke out.
“Currently several parties including salvagers and the Dutch authorities are looking at minimizing the damage as much as possible,” the Coast Guard said.
Shipping company Wallenius Wilhelmsen warned earlier this year:
Shipping companies are facing an added concern with the increasing demand for electric vehicles. Fires onboard vessels can have catastrophic consequences, and battery fires are extra potent and dangerous. Li-ion batteries generate extreme heat when they malfunction, often reaching temperatures of 800 degrees Celsius or higher. This heat can quickly spread to nearby combustible materials, causing a rapid fire that’s challenging to extinguish.
Controlling battery fires is nearly impossible and might indicate Fremantle Highway could burn for days, if not longer.
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