Dock Fire Threatens Ship

A fire broke out at the Port of LA, threatening a ship

A fire that broke out Monday evening at a dock at the Port of Los Angeles and was dangerous enough to be deemed a "major emergency" continued to burn through Tuesday morning.

The blaze broke out at 6:41 p.m. at 802 S. Fries Ave., said Katherine Main of the Los Angeles Fire Department. It burned about 150 feet of a pier.

Boats tied to the dock were moved to safety. The LAFD fought the fire from the air, ground and water.

"Los Angeles Fire Department has five fire boats. All five are actively fighting this fire," LA Fire Capt. Jaime Moore said.

Officials urged residents of San Pedro, Wilmington and Long Beach to stay indoors to avoid the smoke. 

The fire department brought out two of its large fire-fighting boats docked in San Pedro, along with two of its smaller ones.

The big boats can shoot out 38,000 gallons a minute.

Divers, some of them just observing and others with fire hoses, attacked the fire from under the water, and helicopters overhead also were involved. The Long Beach Fire Department joined in the fight. The fire was declared a four-alarm blaze.

The fire was on Berths 177 and 179 on a 40-acre area from where big cargo ships load and unload. Four people were evacuated from the warehouse.

The fire was not directly burning in the warehouse but rather was licking the pier underneath the warehouse, Main said. Two large cargo ships tied to the berth were moved as were some smaller boats.

Flames started in the wood supports uner the wharf where the contents of at least one warehouse fell through.

"The wharf area in a steel terminal is called PASHA. They do a lot of break bolt steel and steel coil product," said Arley Baker of the Port of LA. 

The fire is considered the largest LA port fire in recent memory. Officials said it posed no danger to civilians, but that firefighters faced a long, dangerous battle.

"They're in that water right now, with that dark smoke trying to manage hand lines underneath burning product that’s above them. Trying to fight that fire knowing there’s large coils of heavy steel above them that at any time could fall through," Moore said.

More than 800 terminal employees have been evacuated as precaution. 

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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