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An aerial view of Naval Station Norfolk.

An aerial view of Naval Station Norfolk. (Christopher Stoltz/U.S. Navy)

The fire on the Spirit of Norfolk ship burned through Tuesday night, and crews were still battling it Wednesday morning.

The ship remained afloat, though it’s unclear whether it will be salvageable, according to Kelly Wirfel, a spokesperson for Naval Station Norfolk, where it’s moored after tug boats towed it there.

Wirfel said the fire has burned continuously since around noon Tuesday. As of Wednesday morning, the fire was confined to the first floor, she said.

“Certainly progress has been made, it just seems like ... the fire will die down and then kind of reignite, unfortunately,” Wirfel said. “There’s so many different things on a ship like that that can reignite a fire. It’s been like, ‘Ok it’s engulfed in flames. Ok now it looks like there’s no flames, and then next thing you know it’s ignited again.’”

Investigators have not determined the cause of the blaze. Wirfel said “there’s not even any speculation on how it started.” The U.S. Coast Guard is leading the investigation.

No injuries have been reported.

The 106 passengers onboard were evacuated onto the tour boat Victory Rover and brought back to dock at Town Point Park. Two crew members remained on the ship until it was towed to a pier at the naval base. All passengers and crew members have been accounted for.

The passengers included a group of 89 school children, according to City Experiences, the parent company of City Cruises Norfolk, which manages the ship.

City Experiences said in a statement that it is continuing to work with authorities as the investigation progresses.

“The safety of our guests and Crew is always our first priority,” the statement read. “We value our place and the tradition that the ‘Spirit of Norfolk’ holds as a local landmark within the fabric of this great city. We know we will rebuild to come back stronger than ever and continue to create amazing experiences once again for our guests and our City!”

Crews from Norfolk’s Fire and Emergency Services and Naval Station Norfolk Port Operations tug boats continued to engage with the fire on Wednesday.

Spirit of Norfolk offers dining cruises and private events on the Elizabeth River. The 187-foot ship can accommodate 480 passengers for dining or 570 for other events, such as cocktail parties.

©2022 The Virginian-Pilot.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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