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Ferry returns after rare fire

Oct 25 2012
The Queen of New Westminster is back in service, a day after a fire in the bow-thruster compartment forced the ferry to abort a trip to Duke Point and return to Tsawwassen. 

The Queen of New Westminster is back in service, a day after a fire in the bow-thruster compartment forced the ferry to abort a trip to Duke Point and return to Tsawwassen.

Photograph by: Darren Stone, Times Colonist , Times Colonist

The Queen of New Westminster returned to service Wednesday, a day after a fire prompted the ferry to return to Tsawwassen and abort its 10 a.m. run to Duke Point.

The boat was evacuated. No passengers were hurt but several crew members suffered smoke inhalation after fire broke out in the bow-thruster compartment, said Deborah Marshall, spokeswoman for B.C. Ferries, on Wednesday.

The vessel was pulled out of service while workers replaced insulation and fire-detection equipment in the fire-damaged area.

The bow-thruster is not part of the main engine compartment but is located in a separate area below the vehicle deck, Marshall said.

The Queen of New Westminster, built in 1964, is the oldest ferry on the major routes, she said. It has gone through major overhauls to increase its passenger capacity and upgrade services.

"We did a mid-life upgrade on the ship in 2008 and we spent $57 million on it," Marshall said.

The vessel is expected to remain in service until 2021.

Representatives from Lloyds Register, acting on behalf of Transport Canada, were on board the ship after the fire to check the damage and clear the vessel to sail.

Fires on ferries are extremely rare, Marshall said. The last major fire on-board a vessel was an engine room fire on the Queen of Surrey in May 2003. No passengers were injured but several crew members suffered minor injuries.

The cause of the fire on the Queen of New Westminster is under investigation. The cost of repairs is not yet available.

smcculloch@timescolonist.com

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