(BRUNSWICK, Ga.) — Response teams suppressed a fire Friday evening inside the wreck of the vehicle carrier Golden Ray in St. Simons Sound. Salvage crews were conducting pre-cutting operations and actively using fire suppression systems as a preventative measure when the fire began during the afternoon.
“Early this evening our firefighting teams successfully put out the fire inside the Golden Ray wreck,” said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Efren Lopez, federal on-scene coordinator. “ Safety is our highest priority and every member of the response displayed tremendous commitment to ensuring that emergency plans were followed during the entire firefighting and evacuation evolution.”
Firefighting assets remained on station throughout the night to mitigate any potential fire. All wreck removal personnel were accounted for and all non-essential personnel evacuated shortly after the fire began. No injuries were sustained.
“Fires are an unfortunate possibility given the dangerous conditions inside the wreck,” said incident commander Chris Graff of Gallagher Marine Systems. “Despite the extreme environmental conditions around the wreck, our personnel continue to safeguard the environment through our comprehensive monitoring and mitigation procedures on the water and at the shoreline.”
In addition to a fire watch, on-water pollution mitigation personnel will continue their routine 24-hour watch around the wreck site closely monitoring for any potential debris or oil impacts. Safety personnel continue to conduct mobile air monitoring on the water and at sensitive areas in the community. The response environmental unit will conduct additional water sampling to measure for any impacts to water quality. Previous water sampling analyses have not detected any exceedance of water quality standards.
“Throughout the fire, our safety personnel did not detect any exceedance of air quality standards during their community monitoring using mobile air monitors,” said state on-scene coordinator John Maddox of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division.
Responders increased their fire suppression efforts after smoke began emanating from the ship during pre-cutting operations. Pre-cutting operations involve the use of 6-foot cutting torches, and fire suppression systems are actively used during such operations. Wreck removal personnel were conducting pre-cutting along the cut groove for section No. 3 in order to direct the cutting chain away from thicker steel identified along the cut path during a routine inspection on Thursday.
“Once we are able to access the site safely, we will conduct a thorough analysis of the structural integrity of the wreck as well as all wreck removal equipment,” said Matt Cooke of T&T Salvage.
The Port of Brunswick remained open to vessel traffic.
– St. Simons Sound Incident Response