Ferry service resuming Wednesday between P.E.I. and N.S. after fire on vessel

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WOOD ISLANDS, P.E.I. — Northumberland Ferries Ltd. will resume service Wednesday between Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia as a Transportation Safety Board investigation continues into last week’s fire on one of the company's ferries.

The MV Holiday Island was nearing the terminal at Wood Islands, P.E.I., on Friday when a fire broke out in its engine room, forcing an emergency evacuation involving approximately 230 passengers. There were no reported injuries.

The company said in a release Tuesday it will begin an interim schedule Wednesday consisting of four round trips between Caribou, N.S., and Wood Islands using the MV Confederation.

Marie-Helene Roy, manager of Atlantic Canada marine operations with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, said in an interview Tuesday that investigators were able to board the damaged ferry Sunday but have not been able to enter the engine room.

She said there is still a danger of the fire reigniting. And now there is "quite a bit" of water in the engine room, which makes the investigation work unsafe.

“We don’t know yet for safety reasons when someone from TSB or anybody else will be able to enter safely into the engine room,” Roy said.

Don Cormier, vice-president of Northumberland Ferries, said Monday the boat is listing as a result of the water used to combat the blaze.

"We believe it took on water from the firefighting activities which would have down-flooded into the engine room spaces through the funnels,” he said in an interview Monday.

He said the company suspects a seawater cooling system was compromised during the fire and is letting more water into the boat's engine room.

Roy said the presence of this water “adds another factor for the risk assessment.”

The Transportation Safety Board’s full investigation is expected to take a year, Roy said, and will produce a report that looks at causes and factors that contributed to the fire aboard the ferry without assigning blame.

The union representing staff aboard the ferry released a statement Tuesday thanking their members for their work, noting that "if it were not for the actions of Unifor members, especially those in the engine room who first responded to the fire, the outcome could have been very different."

Will Rafuse, an electrician who was working on the MV Holiday Island at the time of the fire, said in the union's statement that his colleagues in the engine room "took the right steps without anyone getting hurt."

"It's incredible, really. They were brave and they did an exemplary job," he continued.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 26, 2022.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press

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