Passengers evacuated from NS-PEI ferry waiting to pick up their vehicles


Officials say the fire aboard the MV Holiday Island ferry has been extinguished and the process of removing passenger vehicles and cargo has begun.

A passenger waiting for his car is Luca McKenna, an Ontarian whose trip to the Maritimes was derailed just as the ship’s alarms began to sound.

“I panicked at first, I was a bit worried,” he says.

READ MORE: The PEI Ferry was towed to the berth as work begins to ensure the fire is fully extinguished

He says he and his partner were on the ferry after visiting family in Nova Scotia and a camping trip in Prince Edward Island.

They were on deck taking pictures minutes before the boat was docked when the horn sounded for the first time.

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β€œI thought we had just arrived at the dock, but a plume of smoke engulfed us,” says McKenna. “That’s when I was like, ‘Damn, this isn’t great.'”

The couple and some 220 other souls were evacuated without incident or injury, Canadian Coast Guard officials said at a news conference on Sunday.

McKenna he and his partner found accommodation in Prince Edward Island while they waited to find out what was next.

Northumberland Ferries vice-president Don Cormier said they hoped to reunite the evacuees with their vehicles on Sunday evening or Monday. The company will arrange to ship them to those who have since left the area.

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He says none suffered “obvious” damage.

The ferry underwent a mandatory annual inspection in May.

As for the extent of the damage to the ship itself, that will take time to determine.

The fire is believed to have started in the engine room, but crews have yet to access the source.

“We have not entered the engine room spaces and do not expect to do so until a thorough assessment has been made of the vessel’s stability,” Cormier says.

READ MORE: Fire continues to burn on PEI-NS ferry, sailings canceled for remainder of weekend

Ferry service on the route was preemptively canceled for Monday in hopes of getting the remaining ferry back on schedule on Tuesday.

McKenna says that despite the circumstances, the evacuation was not a terrible experience.

β€œIt was a lot of people coming together. Keep calm and do the right thing. Nobody panicked, nobody got hurt,” he says.

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