Five people were injured after the Staten Island Ferry caught fire at the height of Thursday evening rush hour, forcing hundreds of passengers to evacuate.
Sandy Ground, a new $85 million ferry, was carrying 866 passengers and 16 crew members to the outer wards when a fire broke out in its machine room just after 5 p.m.
First responders rushed to a ship anchored near Bayonne, New Jersey while firefighters battled the blaze. DOT officials said.
Passengers on board were given life jackets and most of the passengers were evacuated to tugboats and taken to other ferries that assisted in the rescue. It was then taken to the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island.
The remaining passengers remained on board and were pushed out to the Staten Island terminal by another vessel, according to at least one passenger.
The fire was contained in the engine room when FDNY officials arrived, Chief Frank Reeve said at a press conference. The crew had blocked access to the room to contain the flames.
“We believe the fire is out. But what we don’t want to do is open that door early to give it the air it needs and then start a bigger fire,” Reeve said. Told.
Reeve said the five injuries were related to mild smoke inhalation. Crew members were among the injured who were taken to a local hospital. One of his patients was an asthmatic.
Despite the fear, most people on board remained calm, according to a Facebook livestream of the evacuation shared by passengers on board. Sal Chatman Morand, a Staten Island resident and Manhattan doorman, said a man started screaming that there was “heavy, heavy” smoke coming from the bottom of the boat.
“I thought he was crazy. I thought it couldn’t be helped,” Morand said.
Morand was stuck in the boat for nearly two hours before being forced onto Staten Island, he said. As the ferry approached the terminal, the rest of the passengers were asked to sit on the ground and prepare for the impact.
Rescuers were reportedly battling poor visibility and relying on radar to reach a ferry that had washed up just months earlier.