Crews continue to monitor commercial fishing ship in Port of Tacoma after vessel erupted in flames

Days after a commercial fishing vessel in the Port of Tacoma caught fire, local fire crews and agencies continued to put out the flames. 

Tacoma Fire officials said the Aleutian Falcon ship started burning about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 17. Crews remained on-site through the night trying to get the fire under control from a "defensive" stance. The massive fire sent huge plumes of smoke into the air and firefighters scrambling to keep tens of thousands of gallons of chemicals from spilling into Commencement Bay. 

On Friday, Tacoma Fire said crews continued to coordinate with a salvage company to maintain the fire and turn over the incident to Trident Seafoods, which owns the vessel. By Saturday, Tacoma Fire was able to turn over the incident to the U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Ecology, and Washington State Maritime Cooperative representatives for handling the remainder of the assessments.  

Around 6 p.m. Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard said fire crews were able to get on board the ship and simultaneously fight the remaining flames and start a dewatering process. Tacoma Fire said the dewatering of the vessel was successful. Crews will remain on-site throughout the night as a small part of the vessel is still emitting heat and fire deep in the hull of the vessel. 

Scott Irwin, an engineer for 35 years in the fishing industry, came down to Commencement Bay to check out the vessel and the destruction Thursday afternoon.

"When I came down here and saw that it was still smoking. I asked one of the guys, ‘Did you say this started yesterday?’ So I think they’re just trying to hope that this thing kind of burns itself out because it’s too dangerous to go in," said Irwin.

The state Department of Ecology was on scene working with crews to mitigate the spill of diesel into Commencement Bay. There are 48,000 gallons of diesel and 9,800 pounds of ammonia on board, fire officials said. The ammonia tanks are secure. 

The state Department of Ecology has crews working to prevent those chemicals from spilling into Commencement Bay.

"If it does go down or roll-over, then we’ll definitely have a possibility of a large fuel spill. As of right now, the area is boomed off with absorbent booms so if that does happen we feel fairly confident that we’ll be able to keep it somewhat contained," Alex Wilsie, Tacoma Fire Assistant Chief told Q13's Franque Thompson Thursday evening.

The Aleutian Falcon is a 230-foot long herring and salmon processing ship that spends most of its summers in the Alaskan waters. The vessel can have up to 120 people on board, but no one was on board when the fire was reported. It's moored at Trident’s Tacoma facility between its time in Alaska supporting summer salmon fisheries, according to Trident Seafoods. 

There's no cause yet, no street closures and no injuries reported.