TACOMA, Wash. — Flames erupted overnight in a giant fishing vessel moored at the Port of Tacoma, and firefighters were still on scene battling the blaze on Thursday morning.
The fire broke out just before 11 p.m. Wednesday on the Aleutian Falcon vessel as it was docked at the Port of Tacoma’s Pier 12 at Trident Seafoods.
Seattle-based Trident Seafoods, in a statement emailed Thursday to The Seattle Times, said that the 230-foot Aleutian Falcon was the company’s smallest seasonal processing vessel, and is now a total loss.
“We are grateful to the Tacoma Fire Department for their swift response and watch on scene, and that no one was injured,” said Trident CEO Joe Bundrant. “We will conduct a full investigation of cause.”
While operating in support of Alaska’s summer salmon fisheries, the Aleutian Falcon typically would have a crew of 120.
On Wednesday evening, the roaring flames from the burning vessel could be seen from State Route 509 as three fire boats sprayed water onto the ship.
“Our biggest concern right now is the Aleutian Falcon at this point. It does have reportedly approximately 48,000 gallons of diesel fuel aboard. If it does go down or roll over then we will definitely have a possibility of a large fuel spill,” said Tacoma Assistant Fire Chief Alex Wilsie.
No evacuation orders were put into place. Crews were able to keep the fire from spreading, and booms were put in place to help minimize potential environmental impacts to the waterway.
In a Thursday morning update on Twitter, Tacoma Fire reported that the fire continued to burn but had been contained to the Aleutian Falcon. That statement said the vessel’s ammonia tanks “that were of great concern have been continuously cooled and are intact at this time.”
Fire officials Thursday afternoon lifted a shelter in place order in a northeast Tacoma area impacted by the smoke conditions. They reported that the vessel continues to burn but the vessel was still sound. They will be working with Trident to develop a plan to remove water from the hull space to “ensure this vessel does not sink,” according to a social media post by Tacoma Fire.
Trident officials describe their company as the largest vertically integrated seafood harvesting and processing company in North America. Most of the harvests take place in Alaska, where they are processed on both ships and a network of shoreside facilities.
This has been a difficult winter for the company, which has had to contend with a serious outbreak of the COVID-19 virus at a major processing plant at Akutan in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.
Seattle Times reporter Hal Bernton contributed to this report.