A Dover to Calais ferry carrying almost 200 people had to be rescued last night after fire broke out. Emergency services were called to the incident, aboard the Isle of Innisfree vessel, at around 5.30pm on Friday (March 3) around halfway through the ferry’s 21-mile journey.
It is understood the blaze started in the engine room. The RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) said lifeboats from Ramsgate, Dover and Dungeness launched to the ferry, along with a tugboat from France.
An Irish Ferries spokesperson said: "Irish Ferries can confirm that Friday evening, the crew on board its ship the Isle of Innisfree successfully extinguished a small fire in the ship’s engine room while sailing from Dover to Calais. At the time, the Coastguard was informed and despatched three RNLI lifeboats as a precautionary measure, but they were not required to assist."
The ferry company confirmed the ship was carrying 94 passengers and 89 crew, with all accounted for, safe and well. The vessel got underway again, with the assistance of a tug, to arrive at Calais port. A 'full investigation into the incident' in conjunction with the relevant authorities will now be carried out along with a 'necessary assessment' of repairs.
Passengers booked on Isle of Innisfree sailings in the coming days will be transferred to alternative ships. The spokesperson added: "In the meantime, the Isle of Innisfree’s imminent sailings have been cancelled, and affected customers are being contacted with alternative travel arrangements. Irish Ferries would like to sincerely apologise to all passengers affected by this evening’s incident, and the disruption to their onward journeys."
At the time, HM Coastguard said: "The vessel has confirmed that the fire has been extinguished but it is experiencing technical issues. All passengers and crew are accounted for and no injuries have been reported. RNLI Lifeboats from Dungeness, Dover and Ramsgate have been sent along with a French tug."