Smoky fire at battery switch damages tugboat at California pier

An electrical fire damaged part of an engine aboard a tugboat at a California dock.

The fire broke out on Z-Five, a 95-foot tractor tugboat, at a Starlight Marine Services dock in Alameda, Calif., on March 20.

The blaze started at approximately 1000 and was put out by three crewmembers. The Alameda Fire Department responded to a call and confirmed that the fire had been extinguished.

“The fire was caused by a battery wire that shorted out, producing a small flame but a lot of smoke,” said Jonathan Mendes, general manager of Starlight Marine Services. “The fire was contained to one of the boats auxiliary engines,” added Mendes.

The three crewmembers were not harmed by the fire, but the company drove the workers to the hospital as a precautionary measure, as they had been exposed to smoke. All three were released with no injuries.

Minor damage on the boat was confined to the battery isolation switch where the fire originated. Repairs were rendered the same day and Starlight Marine contracted a company to treat the boat for smoke exposure. Z-Five was back in service the next morning.

“The crew did a great job responding to a minor fire that appeared to be more serious due to the large amount of smoke,” said Mendes. “From a company standpoint, we are proud of the crew for responding how they did.”

Z-Five is owned and operated by Starlight Marine Services, a subsidiary of Harley Marine Services, which provides petroleum transportation, tanker escort and other maritime work on San Francisco Bay.

By Professional Mariner Staff