The fire that raged for days on a 54,000-ton cargo ship outside the Cape port was finally extinguished after Cape Town firefighters intervened.
The ship left Brazil on September 2 and was bound for Hong Kong when the fire broke out in its tightly packed cargo hold.
JP Smith, Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety, says the cargo ship caught fire earlier this week while it was still at sea.
“The fire broke out in the cargo hold and the captain decided to seal that part of the ship,” he says.
“The ship arrived at the port in Cape Town on Tuesday, but because the fire was not yet under control, it was refused entry and could not moor in the port.”
The ship anchored some distance from the harbor and firefighters were called to speed the ship to its aid.
The Cape Town Metro’s fire and rescue services assembled a team of ten people and gathered the necessary equipment to leave for the ship.
The team had to use a ten meter long rope ladder to reach the cargo ship’s deck.
The tightly packed hold in which the fire originated was opened and the firefighters made quick work of moving through the 215m long vessel to the source of the fire.
The firefighters could have gotten close enough to the heat source to spray water near it. However, they had to leave the compartment quickly so it could be resealed. As the water reached the heat source, it quickly turned into steam.
One of the firefighters inhaled severe amounts of smoke and was immediately taken to the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital.
According to Smith, he is getting stronger in the hospital.
It took days for the internal temperature of the ship to drop, but by Thursday the ship was allowed to enter the port.
Firefighters waited ashore for the freighter and immediately boarded upon arrival to further extinguish the fire.
“Using fire-fighting equipment, the firefighters used a concentrated mixture of compressed foam to extinguish the flame in the cargo hold,” says Smith.
“The fire-fighting efforts lasted through the night, but the fire was finally extinguished on Friday morning.”
A fire-fighting device was left on board while the internal damage was investigated.
It is unclear how exactly the fire started.