Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Crowley Tug Crew Extinguishes Shoreside Blaze

By Mark Edward Nero

The mariners aboard the Crowley Maritime Corp. tugboat Sesok recently extinguished a dangerous blaze on the shores of Pilot Point, Alaska, a fishing village along the Yukon River.

The Sesok’s crew was conducting a routine, petroleum transfer from a fuel barge to onshore storage tanks when a pile of building materials – trusses, foam insulation boards and plywood – caught fire about 75 feet from the shore side connection hose, releasing toxic fumes and a thick plume of dark smoke into the air.

The tug’s captain, Crowley’s Matt McLain, ordered his crew to suspend operations, muster on deck and follow the company’s fire emergency action plan.

“Thankfully, we have fire drills aboard the vessel each week,” McLain said. “Even though our training is centered around vessel fires, we were able to adapt accordingly and assist the villagers.”

Some crewmembers used the tug’s fire extinguishers to fight the flames, while others led onlookers away from the toxic fumes. The crew also utilized the Sesok’s portable water pump to combat the blaze with fresh river water.

It took about two hours to fully extinguish the fire, after which the crew completed the planned fuel transfer and sailed to their next destination, as scheduled.

The Sesok isn’t the first Crowley tug to assist in a firefight; in 2006, crewmembers aboard the tug Guard helped firefighters extinguish a house fire on Washington’s Vashon Island. In that incident, because of the rural makeup of the island, the fire department was unable to position its engines as close as they would have liked and relied heavily on Crowley's assistance from the water.