Windstar's Wind Song, sailing in French Polynesia, caught fire early Sunday morning off the coast of Tahaa. 127 passengers, along with crew members, were evacuated in a middle-of-the-night operation -- no injuries reported -- by ferry to the island of Raiatea. From there, they are flying, via an 18-seat charter organized by Holland America, Windstar's parent company, to Papeete, Tahiti's major city.
The fire broke out around 1:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m. Pacific time) in the engine room. Wind Song had departed from Papeete for its weekly Polynesian itinerary on Friday, November 29. At press time -- 6:30 p.m. Eastern time
on Sunday -- the ship, according to Holland America spokeswoman Rose Abello, has "mostly been extinguished and there are concerns about hotspots and
flare-ups." That would mean that Wind Song's fire has so far lasted some 11 hours.
Abello reiterates there have been no injuries. "Our first concern and our focus today in the last 10-to-12 hours has been people's safety, followed by their comfort," she says.
Early this morning, Holland America staffers called emergency contacts listed on cruise records by Wind Song's passengers to let family and friends know the travelers were safe (phones were thin on the ground on Raiatea at first). Once the passengers arrive in Papeete, Holland America will put them up at a resort-to-be-determined. Staffers at the company's Seattle office
are making travel arrangements for those who want to fly home -- as well as for those who want to stay at a land-based resort there.
The ship will ultimately be towed to Papeete where a determination of damages can be assessed. However, Windstar has already canceled Wind Song's next cruise, which was slated to depart on Friday, December 6.
We'll keep you apprised of changes as they occur.
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Windstar Wind Song Catches Fire
December 1, 2002