Picture: for illustration purposes

Cape Town Firefighters Brave Ocean Swells to Save Container Ship from Uncontrolled Blaze

Published September 23, 2023
9 months ago

In an unusual but exceptional display of bravery and ingenuity, firefighters from Cape Town managed to control and extinguish a devastating fire that had consumed a huge container ship headed for Hong Kong. The vessel weighed about 54,000 tonnes. As the inferno blazed on, the captain reacted swiftly to seal the affected compartment and steered the vessel towards Cape Town.



JP Smith, Cape Town safety and security member of the mayoral committee reported, "Due to the advancing flames, the ship was denied entry into the harbour and hence it remained at bay." But, the ever-ready Cape Town fire and rescue department quickly assembled a 10-man crew that was aptly equipped with basic firefighting gear. This crew also had access to crucial thermal imaging cameras and was urgently dispatched to the blazing vessel on Tuesday.


Battling against time and with the mighty ocean swells at large, the courageous firefighters managed to inch close to the source of the blaze inside the enormous 215m vessel. They pumped water into the burning compartment, securely resealed it and judiciously retreated. Smith adds, "As the water came into contact with the heat source, it swiftly turned into steam."



On Thursday, following a significant reduction in the internal temperature of the vessel, the harbour master gave the green light for the distressed ship to enter the harbour. "Using airborne firefighting appliances, the firefighters successfully utilized a concentrated mixture of compressed foam to control the fires," Smith revealed.


The operation spanning over two intense days, concluded victoriously on Friday, saving the vessel from a catastrophic fate. A firefighter was, unfortunately, affected with severe smoke inhalation and had to be taken to Christian Barnard Hospital where he is currently stable.


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