Engine Room Fire Forces Evacuation
A Columbia River cruise ship with 177 people aboard was towed to a state park and evacuated early Tuesday following a fire in the engine room, Coast Guard officials said.
The fire was quickly extinguished, and Coast Guard Cmdr. Chris Keane said no injuries or medical problems were reported among the 124 passengers on the 230-foot Queen of the West, operated by Majestic Cruise Line.
Three of the 53 crew members were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, apparently from fighting the fire, Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Dave Smith said.
The ship was towed to Maryhill State Park and nudged into the river bank for the evacuation shortly after 5 a.m
The passengers and 25 crew members were taken by bus to a hotel in the area, and the other 28 crew members remained aboard the Queen of the West for it to be towed 17 miles downriver to a pier near Klickitat, Smith and Petty Officer 3rd Class Tara A. Molle said.
Cause of the fire was not immediately determined. There were no reports of pollution but personnel from the Washington state Ecology Department took precautionary protection measures, according to a Coast Guard statement. A Coast Guard investigation is planned.
Amy MacIver, a spokesman for Majestic Cruise, said the ship left Portland, Ore., on Sunday and was scheduled to return this Sunday.
There was no immediate indication of the cause of the fire, she said, adding that she could not immediately determine whether the vessel had previously experienced mechanical problems.
A Coast Guard HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Astoria, Ore., at the mouth of the river, a boat from the Wasco County, Ore., sheriff's office and two boats from the Klickitat County, Wash., sheriff's office were dispatched at 12:31 a.m. after the Army Corps of Engineers operator at John Day Dam reported the fire to the Coast Guard.
At the time of the call the vessel was east of The Dalles, Ore., 212 miles upriver from Astoria.
Keane said the Challenger, a Tidewater tugboat headed downriver with two barges carrying grain and ethanol and a third that was empty, tied off the barges near the dam and took the disabled cruise ship under tow to Maryhill.
The Queen of the West was built in 1995, features a three-story paddlewheel and has a maximum capacity of 142 passengers, according to the Web site of Majestic Cruise.
The company offers cruises from Astoria and Portland to Clarkston, Wash., on the Columbia and Snake rivers, as well as on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers between New Orleans and Pittsburgh and between Seattle and the Alaska Panhandle.
Majestic Cruise Line
Cruise Ship Heads to Portland by Tom Vogt, The Columbian, 3/27/6
Sternwheeler Runs Aground in Columbia River, The Oregonian, 3/24/6
Cruise Ship Runs Aground on Columbia River Empress Scrapes Bottom on Lock by Elaine Williams, Lewiston Tribune, 10/24/3
Cruise Ship Gets Stuck In Ice Harbor Dam Locks, Columbia Basin Bulletin, 10/23/3
John Day Lock Closes for Repairs, Lewiston Tribune, 10/19/3
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