By Joey Cresta
May 23, 2012 11:04 PM
KITTERY, Maine — A fire that went to at least four alarms was still burning aboard the USS Miami nuclear-powered submarine Wednesday night at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, six hours after it began, according to the yard's commander.While the fire - located mainly in living areas and in control spaces - continues to burn, the situation is improving, said Base Commander Capt. Bryant Fuller in a
statement to the media at about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday. Six people were injured fighting the fire and were either treated at the scene or transported to a hospital, said Fuller. One of the injured was a
firefighter who suffered heat exhaustion but who was conscious and alert, he said.
According to Fuller, the cause of the fire is still unknown but a full investigation would follow.
Fuller said the nuclear reactor is not active and that there are no weapons aboard the sub.
Firefighters were initially called to the Shipyard just before 6 p.m. for a report
of a fire on a ship in dry dock. Fire crews encountered heavy smoke and
fire, and two firefighters were taken from the scene with injuries, the
officials said, adding two more firefighters were later taken from the
scene for treatment. At 7:30 p.m., black smoke was visible from Prescott
Park in Portsmouth, N.H., billowing from the dry dock and a Portsmouth
fire truck was on standby at Peirce Island.
Smoke was visible in the area of the dry dock by about 9:30 p.m., and just
after 10 p.m., the fire aboard the submarine, docked at Dry Dock 2, went
to four alarms and fire dispatchers were describing the fire as
At 10:45 p.m. a Portsmouth ambulance was called to Gate 1 of the shipyard, according to radio communications. Shortly afterwards, an engine and a foam trailer from
Logan Airport in Boston, Mass., arrived at the scene. According to the
Boston Sparks Association, a fire buff club founded in 1938, an engine
from the submarine base in Groton, Conn. was also responding. Apparatus
from Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts arrived shortly after 11
p.m.Shipyard public affairs specialist Gary Hildreth said the fire is located in the forward compartment of the ship and all nonessential personnel were ordered to evacuate.The
submarine's reactor was not operating at the time the fire started and
was not affected by the blaze, shipyard spokeswoman Bridget Church said.Church said state, local and federal authorities have been alerted to the situation.
Kittery Police Chief Paul Callaghan said the Police Department has not received
any requests from the shipyard to evacuate residents living in the
area. He said the fire aboard the USS Miami is not posing a danger to
the general public.Callaghan said Kittery firefighters are on standby at the shipyard's fire station.
Shipyard gates are open and workers are to report as scheduled on Thursday morning, said Fuller.
Residents in some parts of Kittery reported a small of burning plastic in the
air, and sirens from fire apparatus were heard throughout the night.The
USS Miami (SSN 755) and her crew of 13 officers and 120 enlisted
personnel arrived at the Navy Yard on March 1 to undergo maintenance
work and system upgrades.It is the third vessel named for the city of Miami and the fifth so-called improved Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered submarine, according to the Navy. The
Miami was commissioned June 30, 1990, and its home port is Groton, Conn.The
submarine's commanding officer is Commander Roger E. Meyer, who assumed
command on Sept. 20, 2010. The Miami's host community is Sanford.http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20120523-NEWS-120529864
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