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FEW ANSWERS IN FIERY FREIGHTER ACCIDENT ON THE WELLAND CANAL.
By IRENE PAPAKONSTANTINOU - Toronto Sun
THOROLD - Tight-lipped athorities left locals with more rumours than answers yesterday after a fiery freighter accident on the Welland Canal left about a dozen vesels unable to go through the passageway.
A drawbridge slammed lown on the 42-year-old vessel WINSDOC as it was passing underneath Saturday night, causing the rear of the freighter to erupt into flames.
Police confirmed the WINDOC was hauling 26,000 tonnes of wheat while passing through the canal, but said little else.
The st. Lawrence Seaway Management Group, the organization in charge of the passageway, would not give any details on the accident or what may have caused it.
"st. Lawrence Seaway hasn't released much information. There's not too much we know or can confirm," Sgt. Steve Scriven of Niagara Regional police said.
The Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
"The fire started in the engine and the accommodation area," said safety board spokesman Julie Herbert.
Few Details Released.
She said more details will be released when the investigation ils complete.
The seaway group hoped vessel traffic would resume late yesterdays said Michel
Drolet, Niagara Region vice-president of St. Lawrence Seaway Management.
"Ships all have schedules to meet and we're doing our best to acconiniodate that," he said.
While authorities maintained that the situation was under control, The St. Lawrence seaway group would not comment on the possibility that grain dust from the wheat caused a potentially serious hazard.
It's my understanding that grain dust when airborne and put near a source of ignitioncan cause some sort of explosion. I don't anticipate that problem in this case, but it would be unfair to say it wasn't at all a possibility." Platoon Chief Doug Maddox of the St. Catharines Fire department said.
Welland resident Gary Aubertin, 32, was upset authorities wouldn't comment on the possibility of an explosion.
"It there's a potentian danger they sould be able to tell us. We're left with relying on rumours, and that's no good.
Flocked To Bridge.
Thousands of local residents flocked to the No. 11 Bridge in Allanburg yesterday to watch as fire crews used two ariel ladder trucks to extinguish the smouldering wreckage.
Jason Brant, 27, heard the lift bridge ripped through the kitchen and ignited a fire there. he also heard the bridge was "overdue" for much needed repairs.
The 22 crew members on the ship escaped serious injuries.
The Toronto Sun
Monday, August 13, 2001
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- Reason: aground/fire
Remarks: Got off
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Latitude: 43.08342 Longitude: -79.19958
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