CNN

Fire breaks out on Staten Island Ferry, more than 800 passengers evacuated

Dec 23, 2022, 1:46 PM
A fire broke out on board a Staten Island Ferry during rush hour on Thursday, forcing more than 800...
A fire broke out on board a Staten Island Ferry during rush hour on Thursday, forcing more than 800 people to evacuate. Mandatory Credit: WCBS

NEW YORK (WCBS) — A fire broke out on board a Staten Island Ferry during rush hour on Thursday, forcing more than 800 people to evacuate.

Firefighters said five people were hurt, but they’re all expected to be okay. Passengers on the Sandy Ground said they heard an alarm at around 5 p.m., and then they realized something was seriously wrong.

“Definitely very anxiety provoking,” Olga Jurga said.

“One guy screaming, ‘There’s a fire in the engine!,'” Gerard Lavelle said.

Gerard Lavelle and Olga Jurga said crew members told them to move to the second floor of the ferry, where someone handed them life vests. The couple shared video of them walking through smoke, leaving the ferry where the fire happened.

“It was hazy. You could definitely tell something was smoking. It kind of felt like sardines in a can, all trying to walk with our life vests,” Jurga said.

The couple said they got onto another ferry, butted against theirs, which brought them safely to the St. George Terminal, where passengers like Logan Amos were beathing a sigh of relief.

“I was traumatized. To be on a boat and not know whether you’re gonna make it back to your wife, your kids, it’s a traumatizing experience. I was shaking,” Amos said.

The fire was eventually brought under control.

Firefighters said the fire started in the engine room. The ferry crew used carbon dioxide to put the fire out, and notified the Coast Guard.

“All the safety systems onboard worked. We don’t know the reason yet for the fire. We’re gonna wait for the Coast Guard to make that determination,” said John Garvey, deputy commissioner and chief operations officer for Staten Island Ferry.

Roland Rexha, the secretary-treasurer of the union representing the ferry’s crew members, relayed what the crew told him.

“Fire reigning down, smoke filling spaces, and they did their best to try to control the fire and mitigate,” Rexha said.

Some passengers CBS2 spoke to said it was a bit cumbersome getting onto the ferry that brought them ashore. It wasn’t perfectly level with the ferry where the fire happened so they had to step up a bit, all while the boats were rocking.


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Fire breaks out on Staten Island Ferry, more than 800 passengers evacuated