A fire broke out aboard a Canadian-registered bulk carrier in the overnight hours on Tuesday, May 23, while the vessel was transiting Lake Erie near Pelee Island.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the fire originated in the engine room of the 80-year-old Cuyahoga, and was contained quickly with no injuries reported.
A helicopter from the Coast Guard Air Station Detroit, craft from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and TowBoatUS, and a pair of Canadian Coast Guard boats responded to the incident.
By Wednesday evening, eight members of the 20-person crew were identified as “non-essential,” and taken off the Cuyahoga, while the remaining crew was left aboard to evaluate damage and make repairs, “as necessary,” the Coast Guard said.
The boat is operated by Lower Lakes Towing, a subsidiary of Rand Logistics, and is used for transporting stone, iron ore, coal and other bulk commodities on the Great Lakes.
Built as the J. Burton Ayers in 1943 at a cost of $1.97 million, the 664-foot-long self-discharging bulk carrier was acquired by Lower Lakes Towing in 1995 and renamed Cuyahoga.
In 1974, the vessel was converted to a self-unloader and the equipment installed consisted of a two-belt gravity fed system with hydraulic gates and a forward-mounted 250’ discharge boom that can swing 100 degrees to either port or starboard.
Powered by a 2,500 hp. four crank, double compound steam engine, the Cuyahoga is the second oldest Canadian-registered ‘Laker’ still in active service on the Great Lakes.