Eight Jacksonville firefighters were hurt Thursday when an explosion occurred on board a car carrier as they were working to extinguish a fire on the vessel
The US Coast Guard (USCG) is among multiple agencies responding to a fire on a cargo ship near Blount Island.
According to the USCG, a 45-foot Response Boat- Medium crew was launched from Coast Guard Station Mayport around 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, after officials were notified of a fire aboard the M/V Höegh Xiamen.
The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and Blount Island Port Authority are assisting, and a 500-yard perimeter has been established around the vessel.
All 21 of her crew got off safely and have been accounted for, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
Later in the day while an estimated 120 firefighters were working to put out the blaze there was an explosion.
In a social media update at 1915 hours, the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department said that “there has been an explosion on the ship… firefighters are hurt.” The department said that it was classifying the incident as a mass casualty incident level one (MCI Level One).
Eight of the firefighters were hurt. Four of them are being treated for burns and injuries after being taken to the UF Health Shands Burn Center in Gainesville. The others are being treated at UF Health Jacksonville, one in surgery at 10 p.m. and another in intensive care.
Jacksonville Fire Chief Keith Powers said eight were injured in the explosion, while another suffered from heat exhaustion, all now in stable condition. The explosion occurred as firefighters were battling a fire on board.
“We still had crews inside fighting fire and the situation was not under control,” Powers said. “This is probably the most dangerous firefighting that we do. … There was an explosion and we had some firefighters who got injured.”
The cause of the fire is under investigation.