Nova Scotia-Prince Edward Island ferry service cancelled for another day after fire

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Ferry service between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island won't be operational until at least Wednesday, following a fire last week in the engine room of the MV Holiday Island.

Regular service won't resume while divers are conducting recovery operations in the water and environmental containment booms are in place, Don Cormier, vice-president of ferry operator Northumberland Ferries, said in an interview Monday. The company had hoped to resume service Tuesday.

"We are being very patient about ensuring the fire was out and there wasn't any environmental risk of entering the engine room spaces," he said, adding that the company is also concerned with the fact the boat has taken on a list, meaning it is tilting to one side.

"We believe it took on water from the firefighting activities which would have down-flooded into the engine room spaces through the funnels."

Cormier said divers didn't find any damage to the ship's hull. However, he said, the list has been increasing, meaning the ship is somehow taking on water.

He said the company suspects a seawater cooling system was compromised during the fire and is letting in more water into the boat's engine room. Divers returned to the water to investigate that issue on Monday, he said.

Marie-Helene Roy, with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, said investigators were able to get on board the ferry Sunday but stayed away from the engine room to avoid reigniting the fire. Roy said the agency hopes investigators can get access to the engine room Tuesday.

The fire broke out Friday as the ferry was nearing completion of a crossing of the Northumberland Strait between Caribou, N.S., and Wood Islands, P.E.I. About 230 passengers exited the ship using an inflatable slide and were ferried ashore by fishing boats, rescue crafts and a yacht. Passenger vehicles were removed on Sunday after the vessel was towed to shore.

It's unclear what the new schedule will be with the MV Holiday Island out of commission. Cormier said the company will have details about the schedule once resumption of service is confirmed.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2022.

Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press

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