Car Carrier Hoegh Xiamen fire and explosion in Jacksonville - Eight firefighters injured

Mystery explosion? Fuel and vapor from somewhere ya think? Oxygen already there. The question is"where".

If a space was closed off and then exposed to the heat of the fire, gasses would accumulate without oxygen to burn. Then when in the course of firefighting or investigation an access door was opened, air would be drawn into the space, and the resulting ignition and blowback would cause the same results as an explosion.

Of course but it’s unlikely there are any spaces like that inside the cargo holds. These ships are designed to carry cars with gasoline in the tanks. The only enclosed spaces that I can think of is ladderwells.

Seems more likely it was something related to the cargo.

At a press conference Friday, USCG Sector Jacksonville commander Capt. Mark Vlaun said that the fire is contained to deck levels six and above. Temperatures at lower deck levels remain in the range of 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the response team hopes to contain the “complex” fire above deck six - away from machinery spaces and bunker tanks. The vessel remains on an even keel, with half a degree of list and no change in draft - a sign that the hull cooling effort is not introducing water into the interior. “This is about as much success as you could hope for in this scenario,” said Capt. Vlaun

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The salvage team suspects that the explosion resulted from a release of the gases that built up within the interior after the vessel’s fire dampers were closed, Capt. Vlaun said.

Mixed tactics, fire teams using a direct attack with the vents closed for an indirect attack by CO2 but with the ramp still opened.

Five have been released, but three are still in treatment with burn injuries. Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Chief Keith Powers said that the nature of the injuries includes hand and facial burns, and that the firefighters have a long road ahead for recovery.

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New Video Shows Massive Explosion Aboard Hoegh Xiamen That Injured 9 Firefighters

Doesn’t anyone think that looks like steam more than combustion?? It looks like a pressure system relieving and smoke is white with a tinge of orange vice fossil fuel combustion/detonation and black smoke in the cloud which (the video quality is not awesome) seems to be dissipating the way moisture would? Sure the waste heat system wouldn’t be at normal condition at the dock with ME not running but… if the waste heat was tied to aux and aux had a problem and/or the waste heat reacted to fire fighting efforts…

In the UK its the opposite, health and safety rules prevent the ‘professional firefighters from live training in a hot box’ hence you could say seamen are trained to a much higher standard.

From this site:

The salvage team suspected that the explosion was the result of a release of gases that built up within the interior after the vessel’s fire dampers were closed.

The ship’s seventh deck was believed to have been the source of the fire shortly after the vessel completed loading operations, vessel operator Höegh Autoliners said.

The fire spread through several other levels up to the 11th deck and down to deck six, according to USCG Sector Jacksonville commander Captain Mark Vlaun.

JFRD Chief Keith Powers told local media on Friday that the vessel’s fire dampers have been shut in an effort to starve the fire of oxygen. He said that firefighters on board were dealing with zero visibility and enough heat to make the paint peel off the outside of the vessel.

Temperatures at lower deck levels remained in the range of 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the response team hoped to contain the “complex” fire above deck six – away from machinery spaces and bunker tanks.

In the video it looks to me like pieces of the cargo hold vent are being blown off. There would be E/R vents aft of the stack but likely E/R exhaust vents are in the stack. The E/R supply vents would not vent outboard. Almost has to be a cargo hold vent.

My guess is it was a flashover type event. The ship’s crew might have been following emergency procedures and closed the vents before the firefighters arrived…


An enclosed space is not required for a flashover. In this training video most of one wall is missing, there’s just enough at the top to trap the hot gases

Forward to about 2:50 to see the flashover.

smoke explosion or fire gas ignition depending on the severity of the combustion process.

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If by ‘hot box’ you mean a small room, I’m questioning the fact that UK rules prevent firefighters from training to fight fire in confined spaces.

Hot box is the steel building that simulates a ship, has about 6 levels and can be sealed when on fire.
As explained to me by the ex firefighters that run the fire part of Nautical centre in the UK where I did my firefighting in that steel building
Local firefighters do not use the Marine facility as they dont go into burning buildings, they hose them from the outside.
The joke they said was a chef on a cruise ship has done training a professional has not.

They did say the guys in the USA create a ventilation escape high up to draw smoke out and then enter
They all thought the US system was better.

One of the guys who had a whole 30+ years in local firefighting (and there are lots of fires in the UK from the crap old buildings) said neither him nor any fireman in his area, Kent, had ever saved anyone, he said they are either out when you arrive or inside and dead from the smoke.

I was curious about the term. I’ve trained for shipboard firefighting in the US in a steel structure simulating a ship but not with that many levels and it wasn’t called a hot box. Our FDs train in something like what you describe, several stories and shaped like a tall square box.

Professional large city firefighters are going to have far more experience fighting fires than ship’s crew. How many mariners have fought more than small fires? I ask at meetings, it’s very few.

Don’t know yet if it was an issue here but the fact that many fire departments in port cities are not well prepared for shipboard firefighting is a well know issue.

Marine firefighting is unarguably one of the most challenging of all firefighter disciplines.


yep with a welded up interior with stairs and cabins etc, I’m sure its the same?
They can make the building hot enough to melt your helmet although that is above your training temp.
It a very hot box…
The lesson well learned is a very small fire in an enclosed space gets very very hot

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There are courses available to municipal FDs to train for special types of fires to suit their communities which may include responses to ship or airplane fires. I think it’s safe to say a fire dept in a town with a big chemical plant or oil refinery trains to fight those kinds of fires.


Very often large chemical plants and oil refineries have their own on-site industrial fire departments given the nature of the business and potential risks.