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Fire breaks out at West Side pier

September 29, 2008 5:58:17 AM PDT
Some cruise ship passengers ended their trip at sea with some unexpected excitement Sunday morning - a fire underneath the pier where the ship was docked.The Norwegian Dawn was tied up at Pier 88 at West 48th and 12th Avenue.

"We prepare for the worst and hope for the best," one firefighter said.

And that's just what dozens of firefighters did Sunday, converging on the docks on the West Side just after 9 a.m. Their target area was Pier 88, where the massive ship sat in the water, loaded with about 2,300 passengers.

Crew member David Gorman was on board in the art gallery on deck 12.

"I went to deck 4 and checked out outside, and there's about six firefighters in the water and smoke coming from underneath the pier," he said.

Many of the passengers had to get off the ship earlier than expected. They had just wrapped up a seven-day cruise through Canada and New England. The vessel docked around 8 a.m. Shortly after, the crew, smelling smoke, decided to call for help. The FDNY scuba team found a smoldering fire underneath the nearby pier.

"We believe it's electrical insulation, which helps keep the water pipes warm in the winter," FDNY deputy assistant chief Ronald Spadafora said. "They have an electrical current going through them."

In terms of announcements being made...

"No, they did not," passenger Pat Doherty said. "Not that I heard, you know? But I looked over and saw this magnificent amount of fire department."

And those firefighters calmed frayed nerves both on and off the ship.

"We didn't shut any power off," New York City Director of Cruise Ship Operations Thomas Spina said. "We were able to screen all the passengers for security, and customs was able to process all the disembarking passengers."

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STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Kemberly Richardson

WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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