Smoke vents from the rear car deck doors as firefighters battle a vehicle fire aboard the ferry MV Coho upon its afternoon arrival in Port Angeles on Thursday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula News)

Smoke vents from the rear car deck doors as firefighters battle a vehicle fire aboard the ferry MV Coho upon its afternoon arrival in Port Angeles on Thursday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula News)

Crews evaluated after RV fire on Coho ferry

Combined training helped during incident, deputy chief says

PORT ANGELES — One woman was taken to Olympic Medical Center and 12 people, mostly firefighters, were evaluated and cleared by paramedics after an RV caught fire on the deck of the MV Coho.

The fire began Thursday afternoon as the vessel approached the Port Angeles dock on the first of the Coho’s three-trip sailing schedule.

The firefighters, who ran out of oxygen fighting the fire, were not injured, said Rian Anderson, vice president of terminal operations for Black Ball Ferry Line, which operates the Coho ferry.

“Nobody was hurt or in physical distress,” he said Friday morning after Thursday’s 5:15 p.m. sailing from Port Angeles was canceled.

Friday’s schedule was not impacted, Anderson said.

The fire broke out 10 minutes before the scheduled 4:30 p.m. docking at Port Angeles, said Port Angeles Fire Department Deputy Chief Joel McKeen.

It was confined to the motorhome, although one or two nearby vehicles sustained minimal damage, he said.

Anderson said he got the call about the fire when the boat was at the end of Ediz Hook and the fire department arrived in about three minutes, before the boat finished docking.

Thursday was the first day of the MV Coho’s three daily sailings. The last round trip was canceled and it began again Friday morning after it received approval from both the U.S. Coast Guard and their fire equipment vendor, Anderson said.

The boat’s sprinkler system helped put out the fire along with the boat’s fire crew.

“They did an outstanding job keeping the fire confined until the fire department could take over,” Anderson said.

“The Coho crew did a great job of minimizing the spread of the fire prior to fire crews’ arrival at the dock,” McKeen added.

Passengers were evacuated, but vehicles stayed on the ferry except for one that was removed during the firefight, McKeen said.

Some people who were scheduled to take the 5:15 p.m. sailing to Victoria were accommodated at the Red Lion Hotel, Anderson said.

The RV was destroyed, and the ferry and some nearby cars suffered some thermal damage.

The cause was under investigation Friday.

“Within the past few months, fire department personnel along with MV Coho ferry staff have conducted training together on the Coho for an incident like this one,” McKeen said in a press release.

“Training together helps fire department staff understand the intricacies of fighting fire on a boat, as well as to help when an emergency does occur, like this one.”

In addition to the Port Angeles Fire Department, other responders were Clallam 2 Fire-Rescue from Port Angeles, Clallam County Fire District 3 from Sequim, Clallam County Fire District 4 from Joyce and Olympic Ambulance.

The MV Coho has three departures each from Port Angeles and Victoria between May 17 and June 12, then it increases to four departures each from Port Angeles and Victoria from June 14 to Sept. 3.

Four Port Angeles departures and three Victoria departures are scheduled on June 13 to reposition the vessel.

________

Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached by email at brian.gawley@peninsulanews.us.

Smoke vents from the rear car deck doors as firefighters battle a vehicle fire aboard the ferry MV Coho upon its afternoon arrival in Port Angeles on Thursday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula News)

Smoke vents from the rear car deck doors as firefighters battle a vehicle fire aboard the ferry MV Coho upon its afternoon arrival in Port Angeles on Thursday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula News)

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