Vessel stuck in Waikiki still smoldering day after blaze aboard

Fire flares up overnight on stuck fishing vessel in Waikiki
Published: Oct. 14, 2017 at 2:29 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 15, 2017 at 12:15 PM HST
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WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Officials hoped to make another attempt to remove a fishing vessel stuck in shallow waters off Waikiki Sunday, but those plans may be put on hold after a fire that started Saturday morning flared up overnight and continues to burn.

Video sent to Hawaii News Now shows the orange glow of the fire aboard the commercial fishing vessel Pacific Paradise Saturday night.

The fire flared up after burning all day, since 10 a.m. Saturday.

"I thought they kicked over the engine at first, but when more and more black smoke started to develop out of it, I knew something wasn't right," said witness Chris Beeson.

The U.S. Coast Guard said seven members of the marine salvage company were on the 79-foot boat at the time and managed to get out safely by jumping overboard.

"I was worried about them hitting the reef down there, it's pretty shallow," said Beeson.

Beachgoers couldn't help but watch.

"We are from Omaha, Nebraska and you definitely don't see this in Omaha," said visitor Debbie Fenger.

It was a multi-agency operation to get the fire under control. Sunday morning, crews were on scene conducting water drops and monitoring the smoldering vessel.

The Honolulu Fire Department's air one helicopter dropped buckets of sea water onto the flames while Ocean Safety lifeguards patrolled the 500 ft. safety zone on jet skis.

The Coast Guard has been working to remove pollutants from Pacific Paradise after it ran aground off Kaimana Beach Tuesday night.

During the initial response, 20 people were rescued.

The commercial fishing vessel is homeported in Honolulu and was returning from American Samoa.

Exactly how it got stuck on the reef is still under investigation and so is the cause of the fire.

The Coast Guard says the shallow water is making it difficult for crews to tow the boat away.

"There are coral heads out there and it's sitting in maybe 6 ft. of water so we have to navigate through it," said Patrick Gallagher, U.S. Coast Guard Commander. "We just don't want to do any further damage."

Salvage crews did make previous attempts to remove the vessel on Friday, but failed after an hours-long operation.

Another high tide rolled in Saturday afternoon, but crews were once again unable to remove the boat while working to extinguish the flames.

The Honolulu Fire Department, Honolulu Police Department, Ocean Safety lifeguards, NOAA officials and the DLNR continue to monitor the situation.

Officials are also still looking at the environmental impact the ship and the fire had on the surrounding waters and coral reefs.

Some mobile users may need to click here for more photos.

This story will be updated. 

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