Lithium fire on ship in Rotterdam burning already for days

A fire has broken out in the Botlek since yesterday afternoon on a ship moored at a metal recycling company. The fire was caused by the lithium batteries that overheated in the wreckage in the hold of the ship. According to the Rotterdam-Rijnmond safety region, extinguishing the fire can take days.

The firefighters then remove the so-called ‘hot spots’, the hot spots in the hold, from the ship with a crane in order to extinguish them sideways. The hatches must be open for this. Once this happens, oxygen gets in and the flames flare up. Smoking is also increasing.

As soon as the smoke causes too much nuisance for local residents, the firefighters close the ship’s doors and wait for the smoke to disappear. “The process then starts again and this only takes time, because you have to wait,” says a spokesperson for the security region. The entire hold of the ship is expected to be empty.

To get the debris out of the ship faster, firefighters deployed two more cranes. “One from the dock and one from the water. This is a logistical process, because we also have to organize a place where those cranes can place the hotspots.”

Latest news is that the cargo hold with the lithium fire will be filled with water because otherwise the fire will not be extinguished. Class D fire extinguishers are required to combat these fires which are often not readily available.

Lithium-ion and lithium-metal cells are known to undergo a process called thermal runaway during failure conditions. Thermal runaway results in a rapid increase of battery cell temperature and pressure, accompanied by the release of flammable gas. These flammable gases will often be ignited by the battery’s high temperature.


A cargo of scrap metal spontaneously overheated in hold no. 2 of the Cosco bulkcarrier ‘AN CHANG’’. The vessel was loading at the Laurenshaven, Rotterdam.
The situation was not changed and smoke was still seen above the vessel with the RPA patrol boats attending