Fuel leak caused cruise ship fire

WASHINGTON – The fire that crippled the Carnival cruise ship Triumph started with a leak in a fuel-oil return line running from one of the ship’s engines, the US Coast Guard said yesterday.

Leaking oil hit a hot surface, starting the fire, said Teresa Hatfield, the lead investigator for the Coast Guard. Hatfield said there was no indication the leak in a flexible hose section was intentional.

“Fire suppression was immediately activated by the crew, first by waterfog and then by (carbon dioxide). They did a very good job,” Hatfield said.

“We are looking at the cause of the fire and why the ship was disabled for so long, and we are also looking at the crew response to the fire as well.”

Hatfield said the investigation will last for several months. The Coast Guard said it has conducted 21 interviews with passengers and crew members since Thursday, when investigators boarded the ship while it was still at sea.

Hatfield said the oil return line is one of the items that is routinely inspected, but she did not say when it was last inspected or describe its condition at that time.

Vance Gulliksen, a spokesman with Carnival Cruise Lines, told CNN Monday that the ship’s last scheduled Coast Guard inspection was on November 15. Gulliksen also said the cruise line agreed with the Coast Guard’s determination of the origin of the fire. (CNN)

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