(4:15 p.m.) -- The Associated Press is reporting this afternoon that the devastating fire aboard Star Princess last night was caused by a cigarette.
There's been no new announcement from Princess since its initial statement, issued at 10:30 a.m. E.S.T.
One passenger was killed as a result of the fire, which raced through some 150 staterooms, and 11 others were injured. The fire began at about 3 a.m. while the ship was at sea, cruising between Grand Cayman and Jamaica, and impacted cabins on decks 9 - 12.
Rumors persist today that the fire actually spread from a balcony and, indeed, while ships do have fire zones that will stop the progression of a fire indoors, ironically no such protection exists on certain types of verandahs.
The 550 passengers whose cabins were scorched will be housed at hotels in Jamaica, and Princess will fly the remaining travelers home. The ship, which had been carrying a full load of passengers -- 2,690 to be precise -- is still considered seaworthy and will sail empty of travelers back to Ft. Lauderdale.
There's no further word yet from Princess regarding repairs and resumption of cruises aboard Star Princess.
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Star Princess: Fire Update
March 23, 2006