Fire tragedy

Floris Steenkamp

Tragedy struck at Seawork Fish Processors in Walvis Bay on Saturday morning, when one of the company’s fishing vessels caught fire alongside, resulting in the death of one employee. The fishing vessel, Ocean Tide, was undergoing a refit of new fishing gear alongside when welding works aboard possibly set insulation in the hull ablaze. Seawork said in a statement yesterday the fire incident is now the subject of a forensic investigation.

The Walvis Bay fire brigade, assisted by tugs of Namport and the port’s fire brigade, battled the fire for more than twenty-four hours. The fire was finally put out by 17:00 on Sunday with most of the destruction confined to the wheel house, the galley below, accommodation quarters and sections of insulation in the vessel’s hull. These sections of any seagoing vessel usually contain most of the combustible materials.
The fire chief of the Walvis Bay municipality, Dennis Basson, yesterday praised the coordinated efforts by the fire teams, the Namibian Police and Walvis Bay Diving and Salvage to get the situation under control.
Whilst the fire teams were battling the flames from the fishing jetty, the tugs sprayed water against the burning vessel’s hull to cool it down sufficiently for fire teams to enter the burning vessel.
Walvis Bay Diving and Salvage assisted to pump water from the burning vessel. In the event of a fire aboard a vessel, the vessel’s stability is threatened by a combination of weight shifting and the amounts of water pumped into the vessel to fight the fire flowing to the lowest point, resulting in the vessel to list and in some instances topping over.
“We managed to avert all these dangers. Yet it is very sad that one person lost his life in this fire incident”, said Basson to Namib Times yesterday. Adding the fire teams were also vigilant at all times to prevent the flames from spreading to the vessel’s engine room, the onboard fish processing plant as well as the fuel.

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