A port auxiliary engine was operating under normal conditions when a fire started in way of the manifold. It was decided to evacuate the engine room and the CO2 system was released eleven minutes after detection of the fire. After approximately half an hour, the fire was confirmed extinguished.
The auxiliary engine was damaged and damage was also found to the automation cables and to the blender system (cables and accessories). All three auxiliary engines were in need of a complete overhaul. There were no personal injuries.
The fire was caused by the bursting of the fuel injection pipe on cylinder no. 3. The released fuel hit the hot exhaust gas manifold and ignited. The fuel pipe connecting bolts had probably come loose and this allowed the pipe to vibrate excessively which lead to a rupture.
The fuel pipe protection covers had not been replaced following a recent repair to the fuel oil pipe from cylinder no.1. This was the second fuel pipe failure within a short period. It is therefore possible that detoriation of the fuel pipes due to age and/or reduced quality on the part of the manufacturer, were contributing factors.
A fire detector was fitted on top of the engine and found to be in good working condition. However, the ventilation deviated the smoke from the censor, resulting in that the detector between the centre and starboard engine sounded instead. The detection of the fire was therefore probably delayed.
The above incident highlights some of the following lessons to be learned:
- Special safety procedures are to be applied when doing repairs/maintenance affecting fire safety. A repair or maintenance job is not finished until shielding and fire protection are brought back in order. Preferably, lagging which does not deteriorate easily due to frequent fitting/dismantling should be used.
- Fitting bolts for the fuel injection pipes should be regularly checked for proper tightness.
- Fuel pipes should be regularly inspected and replaced whenever necessary.
- Fire detectors should be properly located and confirmed to work properly in normal ventilation condition.
- Quick release of the fixed fire fighting system, as in this case, is the best way to prevent the fire from getting out of hand.