2014 Sep 30

More than 450 people evacuated after fire breaks out on cross-Channel ferry

A huge fire broke out on a cross-Channel ferry as it arrived in Calais on Monday causing more than 450 people to be evacuated from it.

The P&O ship was pulling into the French port when plumes of thick black smoke started billowing through the decks.

A blaze broke out in the ferry's engine room and firefighters along with police had to help 337 passengers and 119 crew members onto the shore.

Truck driver Ed Sproston, 39, took photos of the aftermath of the blaze and said the black smoke left him struggling for breath.

He said: "I was sitting upstairs talking to my kids on the phone when the captain came on the tannoy and said they had a 'slight problem with the starboard engine'.

"He said we were going to have a tug boat pull us into the port but then I just saw plumes of smoke coming out of the engine room.

"The alarm started going off and then they said they wanted to evacuate us all to the foot passengers exit.

"There were big plumes of smoke coming out and large pieces of ash were just falling from the sky."

The father-of-two from Folkestone, Kent said the fire on the ferry last for around 20 minutes before it was extinguished by sprinklers.

He added that it was "lucky" the fire did not happen while they were out at sea.

Mr Sproston said: "It is lucky we weren't out at sea. I would have jumped out if I needed to but there were young children and babies on board.

"A lot of people were panicking and the crew were trying to calm them down but it was all a bit disorganised.

"My lungs are still hurting now. You could smell the smoke and taste it as well."

P&O said no one was injured by the blaze on the Pride of Canterbury that happened around 8am and an investigation into it has been launched.

A spokeswoman said: "The Pride of Canterbury had a fire in the engine room at around 8am as it arrived into Calais.

"It was extinguished by the ship's fire protection system i.e. the sprinklers.

"Nobody has been injured and the ship disembarked all the passengers safely.

"We have had to cancel one round the trip journey to asses the damage caused by the fire."

Source:; Dion Dassanayake

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