Towboat Fire on Lower Mississippi Forces Crew to Abandon Ship

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February 21, 2018

MV Leland Speaks. File Photo: / David.L

The crew of a towboat was forced to abandon ship after their vessel caught on fire while pushing barges on the lower Mississippi River near Greenville, Mississippi on Wednesday.

Coast Guard Sector Lower Mississippi River watchstanders received a report at 7:20 a.m. of the towboat Leland Speaks adrift and on fire on the lower Mississippi River. Other towboats reportedly gained control of the vessel and pushed it aground at mile marker 509.

The Leland Speaks has an estimated 80,000 gallons aboard and was pushing 21 dry barges.

There are no reports of pollution or impacts to the environment.

The Coast Guard issued a waterway restriction from mile marker 500 to mile marker 520 to limit vessel traffic in the area.

The Coast Guard reports that there were eight people aboard the Leland Speaks when the vessel caught fire, all of whom abandoned the burning vessel onto towboats in the area. There are no reports of injuries.

There are no reports of hazardous material aboard the barges.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

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