Six Hospitalized in Ferry Fire, Two Arrests

A member of the Royal Air Force rescues an injured passenger from a ferry en route to IJmuiden (frame from RAF video). (A member of the Royal Air Force rescues an injured passenger from a ferry en route to IJmuiden (frame from RAF video))

Two people were arrested yesterday after a fire on a ferry from Newcastle to IJmuiden injured six others. Police have suggested one person may have caused the fire in a cabin when the ferry was 30 miles off the English coast on its way to the Netherlands.

Four passengers and two members of the crew suffered smoke inhalation, and were airlifted to area hospitals by the U.K. Royal Air Force. Two of those transported by helicopter are from the Netherlands. All six have since been released from treatment. Another 15 other passengers and eight crew members were treated by a doctor on the ferry.

"At approximately 11 p.m. the Maritime and Coastguard agency informed Humberside Police that a passenger ferry en route from Newcastle to Holland had suffered an incident whereby a passenger is believed to have set fire to a cabin," Inspector Andrew Dixon said to the Independent.

"It is unknown if the fire was started deliberately or accidentally. As a result of this incident the person suspected of causing the fire, or the person from the cabin where the fire occurred, be it deliberate or accidental, has been detained by ship staff and the ship was returning to its dock in Newcastle."

Police arrested another person for fighting onboard the ship after the fire started.

One passenger told Dutch newspaper Gelderlander that most everyone on the ship handled the situation well once the response began. "We looked at each other and knew it was the alarm," Raimond Bos said. "Outside the cinema was an employee who escorted us to the sixth deck," where there was a meeting point.

"The evacuation was textbook. There was no panic. "

Following the incident, the boat, a DFDS vessel, turned around and returned to England. A spokesman told the BBC that all customers who did not reach the Netherlands would get a refund.

"We will do everything to help our passengers," Gert Jakobsen said to the broadcaster. "There will be a ferry leaving tonight, there will be some spaces on that [and] there will be some spaces offered on other ferry lines."

"We hope to help as many as we can."