The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating a small fire that broke out 2 p.m. Wednesday on the buoy tender Fir, said Commanding Officer Hal Pitts.

The fire damaged one of the two diesel generators on board and sent two crew members to Columbia Memorial Hospital for treatment after smoke inhalation. The crew members, who were the watch standers in the space where the fire broke out, were released later in the afternoon with no significant injuries, he said.

The Coast Guard is also examining the lower level of the engine room, where some of the fire fighting water went, Pitts said.

The fire occurred while the ship was conducting a training drill. The fire was relatively small, and crews were able to contain and extinguish it quickly, Pitts said. The fire was out before the Astoria Fire Department arrived on scene.

Preliminary information indicates the fire started because another piece of equipment malfunctioned.

"This piece of equipment is not supposed to have a fire in it," Pitts said. "There are many ways machinery can have fires. We believe this particular piece of equipment overheated because on another piece of equipment a valve shut and the turbo charger overheated. A filter cartridge caught fire."

The Fir was commissioned in 2003 and replaced the 60-year-old Cowslip.

"This is a new ship," Pitts said. "We've had some warranty equipment issues, but that's part of the process.

"We haven't had any major equipment problems on the magnitude of what we had yesterday."


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