By Kirk Moore of workboat.com
Firefighting and salvage teams boarded the still-smoking Caribbean Fantasy off Puerto Rico Friday morning , assessing damage and vessel stability – and finding two deceased dogs, the sole casualties on board after a massive evacuation Wednesday morning.
The teams first checked the grounded 561’ car and passenger ferry around 5 p.m. Thursday, closing some fire dampers in the engine room where the blaze was believed to be largely contained.
They also looked for the two pet dogs, a Chihuahua and an English bulldog reported missing by their rescued owners. The 512 passengers and crew who evacuated the burning ship Wednesday also brought with them five pets, Coast Guard officials said.
The Caribbean Fantasy fire was reported around 7:40 a.m. Wednesday, as the vessel approached San Juan at the end of its thrice-weekly run between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Almost all passengers were off by 10 a.m., exiting the ship from emergency slides and being rescued by the Coast Guard, local agencies and the port’s tugs, fireboats and pilots.
Several passengers were injured on the slides and local officials said 24 were hospitalized, none for serious conditions.
In Cruise Control, a 2015 investigation of the cruise industry’s health and safety records, the nonprofit journalism group Pro Publica reported the Caribbean Fantasy was cited for 107 deficiencies during Coast Guard inspections in recent years. One Jan. 21, 2015 inspector’s report had this to say about the engine room: “Oil fuel lines shall be screened or otherwise suitably protected to avoid oil spray or oil leakages onto hot surfaces, into machinery air intakes or other sources of ignition.”