A fire burns on a barge carrying scrap household appliances, May 23, 2022. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

Barge Fire Put Out in Delaware Bay

Mike Schuler
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May 25, 2022

The massive fire onboard a barge in Delaware Bay has been extinguished after burning for approximately 26 hours, ending what is thought to be the largest firefighting operation in Delaware state history.

Bowers Fire Company Chief Aaron Warren made the announcement Tuesday about an hour after Governor John Carney issued a limited State of Emergency for Kent County, which took effect at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The Coast Guard reported Monday that watchstanders at the Sector Delaware Bay Command Center received a call at approximately 1 a.m. reporting a barge on fire in the Delaware River. The barge was reportedly carrying household appliances for scrap.

A total of thirty organizations and fire companies were involved in the effort to put out the fire, including the U.S. Coast Guard and New York City Fire Department (FDNY), Bowers Fire Company said in an update on Facebook. Chief Warren said to his knowledge it was the largest Delaware firefighting operation in state history.

A Unified Command has been established to oversee salvage operations. Northstar Environmental and Marine Services has been contracted to assess the integrity of the vessel and manage salvage operations.

A Coast Guard 87-ft Patrol Boat is monitoring the situation and enforcing a 500-yard safety zone enforced around the barge and Northstar Independence, the Norstar’s 185-ft salvage vessel. Vessels are prohibited from entering unless authorized by the Captain of the Port of Delaware Bay.

Should the fire reignite, Northstar Independence has firefighting capabilities onboard.

The Coast Guard reports no sheening or discoloration has been observed on the waterway.

“I want to thank all the responders, especially Fire Chief Aaron Warren, the local fire companies, and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control who initially responded to this complex and dynamic situation,” said Capt. Jonathan Theel, Sector Delaware Bay Captain of the Port. “The fire is out due to their dedication and adaptability.”

From photos, the barge appears to be the new CMT Y NOT 6 belonging to Coeymans Marine Towing (CMT), part of Carver Companies. Carver Companies posted a photo welcoming the “new” barge to Facebook just last week, however it appears the post has been taken down. Coast Guard records show the barge was built in 1998.

The Unified Command consists of representatives from Eastern Metal Recycling, New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, Cumberland County Office of Emergency Management, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

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