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Stack Fire Sends Smoke Plume Over Port of Anchorage

Port of Alaska at Anchorage waterfront view
Fuel pier at Port of Alaska at Anchorage, right (USACE file image)

Published Nov 20, 2022 2:11 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Friday, a stack fire aboard a product tanker startled residents around the port of Anchorage, Alaska with a loud explosion and a plume of smoke.

The foreign-flagged tanker Atlantic Lily was alongside at a fuel pier in Anchorage on Friday and unloading a cargo of jet fuel. For reasons of a technical malfunction, the boiler began to emit unburned fuel vapor up the stack, a dangerous condition that can result in an explosion. At about 2200 hours, the vapor ignited in the stack, producing a loud boom, thick smoke and visible flames. 

The vessel's crew responded to the emergency by deploying fire hoses and extinguishing the flames. The Anchorage Fire Department and Port of Alaska personnel arrived on scene shortly after to provide support, but did not need to board the vessel. The cargo transfer operation was paused until the fire was fully out and the cause had been investigated with Coast Guard oversight. 

The crew found that a technical issue with the ship's auxiliary boiler resulted in an improper fuel-to-air ratio, igniting soot in the exhaust stack and causing the loud blast, according to Sector Anchorage. A technician was called in to fix the boiler, which remains turned off until after the ship has finished offloading her cargo. 

On Saturday, fuel offloading had resumed when the stack caught fire again, but at a lesser scale, the Coast Guard told the Anchorage Daily News. No injuries or pollution were reported from either incident. 

Atlantic Lily is a 50,000 dwt product tanker built in 2008. Her recent port state control record is clean, but in 2019 she was cited for fire safety and SOLAS issues, including firefighting equipment, ventilation and lifeboat deficiencies.