Fire on the Hurtigruten

A fire on the Hurtigruten steamer MS Nordlys broke out in the engine room on Tuesday morning. The police were notified about hte fire at 9:20 a.m.
Photo: Rune Eik

Photo: Rune Eik

A fire on the Hurtigruten steamer MS Nordlys broke out in the engine room on Thursday morning. The police were notified about the fire at 9:20 a.m.

Two people, both employees of Hurtigruten, perished in the fire. In addition, several were injured and seven people have been admitted to Ålesund Hospital with fire and smoke-related injuries. Two are seriously injured, one of whom has been sent to Haukeland University Hospital for treatment.

The hospital is considering sending the others to Haukeland as well. In addition, nine people received treatment at the emergency room.

The MS Nordlys had 262 people on board, of which 207 were passengers. The extinguishing effort continued Thursday afternoon, but the fire department has persevered.

“We have control of the fire,” said fire chief Geir Thorsen said in a press conference in Ålesund on Thursday afternoon.

Efforts continue to stop the spreading of the fire, and the ship’s power supply is being worked with and closely monitored.

“We have a challenge when it comes to stability, since the boat is taking in sea water. Divers have examined the hull, and there is a buckling of the hull, but otherwise no external damages to the ship. We have put large efforts into keeping the boat stable. The boat is now heeling at 10 degrees,” says Thorsen. Fire crews worked with the power onboard the ship so the ship’s own pumps could take away the water.

Just before 6:00 p.m.,  the fire department said to TV2 that the situation looks somewhat brighter – now the ship is taking in smaller amounts of seawater than rescue workers are pumping out.

Firefighters feared the fire would spread up the chimney, but the efforts of fire crews have ensured that there is no risk of further fire spread.

The fire department does not wish to speculate on what started the fire, although, said Thorsen: “The engine room is fairly burned out. There is evidence that the engine room was the most vulnerable.”

The explosive fire created major challenges for fire crews.

“It was so hot that it burned up their gloves as they held on to the railing. There was also a lot of smoke, so the challenge has been great,” says Thorsen.

Police have not begun investigations, since the scene is far too hot. Firefighters believe the cause of the fire could have been an explosion. “There are indications that there has been an explosion in the engine room. There is major damage in this room, and there has been considerable development of heat,” says Thorsen.

“We have been in contact with law enforcement authorities, and requested technical assistance to review the machine room, which is believed to be the initial scene of the fire. The Accident Investigation Board is on its way, says chief investigator Terje Rishaug.

There will also be interviews with crew members and witnesses to get as much information as possible about the cause of the fire. Technical studies will not be possible before the ship’s temperature goes down, according Rishaug.

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