JAXPORT car carrier fire contained but not out

Fire officials in Jacksonville, Florida, say the blaze aboard the Höegh Xiamen has been contained but not extinguished.

The fire was reported on the seventh deck of the car carrier shortly after loading operations were completed at JAXPORT’s Blount Island Marine Terminal at about 4 p.m. Thursday. An explosion reportedly occurred about three hours after firefighters responded and the fire spread to other decks.

Nine firefighters were injured battling the blaze. Four were transported to a burn unit in Gainesville, Florida. All but three of the injured firefighters were released from the hospital Friday.

None of the 21 crew members on the Xiamen were injured. 

The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD) tweeted over the weekend that it was cooling the ship “with more than 25,000 gallons of water per minute on all sides.”

The Höegh Xiamen was shrouded in smoke at Blount Island on Friday. (Photo: Kim Link-Wills/FreightWaves)

JFRD also tweeted that it was using drones equipped with infrared cameras to determine temperatures at different locations on the ship in order to direct the water streams to the hottest areas.

Höegh Autoliners said in an update that JFRD as well as the Resolve Marine Group continued “to work to extinguish the blaze on several decks, with an ongoing focus on cooling the vessel’s exterior. This is being carried out by fire tugs [that] are spraying water on the vessel to keep it cool. An additional high-capacity pump has also been deployed to significantly increase the amount of water on the hull.”

Höegh, headquartered in Norway, said it was working with local authorities to protect the environment as the firefighting efforts continued.

The Höegh Xiamen was named during an October 2010 ceremony in China. (Photo: Höegh Autoliners)

“There has been no report of any pollution and this is being continually monitored,” Höegh said. “Containment booms have been placed around the vessel as a precautionary measure.”

JAXPORT said it remains open and operational. “A safety zone has been set up around the vessel and other cargo operations at Blount Island continue uninterrupted,” it said.

“Fire and specialty crews are working around the clock to maintain the structural integrity of the ship and reduce the threat of any environmental impact to the river,” JAXPORT said in an update Monday. 

An estimated 150 firefighters have been involved in the effort to contain the blaze.

Höegh Autoliners added Jacksonville to its ports of call in March 2018. Höegh said it operates pure car and truck carriers on 12 trade routes. 

The Höegh Xiamen sails under the Norwegian flag. It was named during an October 2010 ceremony at Xiamen Shipbuilding Industries in China and is commercially operated by Grimaldi Deep Sea S.p.A.