SWLA resident witnesses Mobile barge explosions - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

SWLA resident witnesses Mobile barge explosions

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Mobile, AL (KPLC) -

Just before 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, there was a fiery explosion, the result of a fire on two fuel barges in the Mobile Bay.

The explosions hospitalized three people with critical burns. 

"Chaos. Police officers, the fire department and the Coast Guard," said Sean Sura. "I guess you can consider it organized chaos." 

Sura is a Lake Charles resident who works as a chief inspector on a pipeline project in Mobile. He was at his facility around 9:30 p.m. when the second explosion happened.
 
"I was probably about three quarters to a mile away from that area when the second one when off," Sura said.

That facility, like others around the explosion site in Mobile Bay were evacuated.

"When it blast off you felt it," Sura said. "You felt that heat and the smell of the gas in the air was quite strong."
 
Sura said the residual blasts lasted until just before 3 a.m. Thursday when firefighters were able to contain the rest of the fire. 

The Coast Guard continue to investigate the cause of the fire but believe a spark from a cleaning crew aboard the barge ignited the larger flames.  

The barges are owned by Kirby Inland Marine. They issued the following statement to KPLC

Representatives of Kirby Inland Marine continue to cooperate with the United States Coast Guard and officials from Port of Mobile and City of Mobile in the investigation into the cause of an explosion. The fire damaged two Kirby barges and other vessels in the Port of Mobile on Wednesday evening.

Teams from Kirby including experienced salvage and response contractors are developing a salvage and transit plan requesting that the U.S. Coast Guard permit the removal of the damaged barges from the site.

The cause of the incident remains under investigation.

Kirby expresses its appreciation to the first responders who quickly arrived on scene to assist in the incident response. We continue to keep the injured individuals and their families in our thoughts and prayers.

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