[Updated] Two Dogs Still On Board Burning Grounded Ferry
Marine inspectors, fire fighting and salvage teams are scheduled to board the grounded ferry Caribbean Fantasy soon to evaluate the vessel's stability and to assess the damage from an engine room fire that disabled the vessel and forced the evacuation of her passengers and crew.
In addition, the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency said at a press conference Thursday afternoon that the fire continued to burn and that there were still pets on board the vessel. Puerto Rican media suggested that two dogs were believed to be on board.
In an update Friday morning, the Coast Guard said that “salvage and fire fighting teams boarded the . . . Caribbean Fantasy Friday morning and located the two missing pets deceased near the vessels disembarkation are.
“The fire is reported to still be active and mostly contained in the vessel's engine room,” the agency said.
The Fantasy caught fire near San Juan, Puerto Rico early on Wednesday, then drifted aground just off of Punta Salinas. Engineering crewmembers told the Guardian that they worked for two hours to fight the fire but could not put it out.
The Coast Guard confirmed that all passengers and crew from the vessel were safely accounted for. Local media said that 100 were treated by first responders for minor injuries and smoke inhalation and 24 were transferred to the hospital for treatment.
There have been no reports of pollution and the ship is being closely monitored. As a precautionary measure, oil booms have been deployed at the water intakes for the Palo Seco oil-fired power plant, which is across Boca Vieja Bay from the vessel's position.
The response unified command has an additional 14,000 feet of oil booms pre-staged near Punta Salinas. The Coast Guard has established a 1,000-yard safety zone around the ship.
The joint command includes the Coast Guard, the EPA, the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board, the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, and Baja Ferries (the vessel's owner).
American Cruise Ferries (the vessel's operator), Ardent Global, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, NRC, NOAA, emergency response firm Witt O'Brien's, the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency and the Puerto Rico Fire Department are also participating. Panamanian media report that the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) is working with other agencies to investigate the cause of the fire on the Panama-flagged vessel.
The USCG said that Ardent Global has been selected to develop the salvage plan.