PortandTerminal.com, June 9, 2020
Five days after nine Jacksonville firefighters were injured battling a huge blaze inside a car-carrier docked at Blount Island Marine Terminal, all but two are out of the hospital.
JACKSONVILLE, FL – The Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department released a video showing the explosion aboard the 600-foot Norwegian car carrier (RoRo) Höegh Xiamen that injured 9 firefighters.
The video, released on social media, starts as a heavy plume of white smoke is seen near one end of the burning ship. Seconds later, an even heavier plume of smoke shoots out and send debris flying.
All but 2 of the 9 firefighters injured Thursday evening are now out of hospital.
Eight of the injured firefighters were dozens who were inside the burning vessel when the explosion occurred. The firefighters escaped the ship with their lives, but with burns to their heads and hands.
A ninth firefighter was hospitalized for heat exhaustion.
Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD) Chief Keith Powers was there when the explosion happened. In an interview with News4JAX, he gives his account of what he saw.
“To see them start to come off that ship and seeing those burns and one of them with a nasty orthopedic injury to his arm — it crushed me,” Powers said Monday.
‘We came very close to losing some firefighters’JFRD Chief Keith Powers
Powers said it’s a miracle the eight men caught in that explosion survived.
“We came very close to losing some firefighters the other night,” Powers said. “There had to be something to save some of those people from losing their lives, and God is the reason that is.”
As of Monday, two firefighters were still in the hospital, undergoing skin grafting surgeries in the burn unit at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville.
Randy Wyse, president of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters, said being inside that ship would’ve been similar to being in an oven, but their gear helped protect most of their bodies.
Wyse is concerned that all of the firefighters involved may also have mental scars of trauma from this life-changing moment.
“I will tell you most all of them that I talked to have told me they felt like ‘that’s where I was going to die,’” Wyse said.
On Saturday, JFRD said, crews were cooling the ship with more than 25,000 gallons of water per minute on all sides. Sunday morning, JFRD said the fire is considered under control but is still burning.
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