2019 Nov 04

NTSB cites fuel leak for fire that destroyed towboat

About 1005 local time on Sept. 12, 2018, a fire broke out in the engine room of the towing vessel Jacob Kyle Rusthoven while it was pushing nine barges southbound on the Lower Mississippi River at mile 673.8, approximately six miles north of West Helena, Ark. As the fire spread, three of the barges broke away from the tow, and one rolled over and lost its cargo. All six crewmembers abandoned the vessel onto the barges, from where they were rescued by a Good Samaritan vessel. Due to smoke inhalation, the crew was later sent to the hospital and discharged the same day. No pollution was reported. Jacob Kyle Rusthoven, valued at an estimated $1.5 million, burned completely.

Probable cause

​The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the engine room fire on board the towing vessel Jacob Kyle Rusthoven was an engine lube oil leak that ignited off a hot surface near the starboard main engine turbocharger. Contributing to the severity of the fire was the lack of crew measures to activate the engine fuel supply shutoffs and secure open doors ventilating the engine room.

Click here to read the complete report.


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