Crew escapes Lower Mississippi towboat fire

The crew of a towboat ablaze on the Lower Mississippi River were able to escape safely Wednesday morning when other towboats came to take them off, Coast Guard officials said.

The 150.2’x44.2’x10.8’, 5,000-hp Leland Speakes, operated by Jantran Inc., Rosedale, Miss., was pushing 21 dry barges when Coast Guard watchstanders received a report around 7:20 a.m. Wednesday that the vessel was on fire and adrift near Greenville, Miss.

Eight crewmembers safely got off onto other towboats that responded to the scene. The other towboats were able to get control, and pushed the Leland Speakes aground near mile marker 509, according to the Coast Guard.

The towboat was reported to be carrying 80,000 gals. of fuel but no spills or environmental effects were reported. River traffic was restricted from mile marker 500 to 520 during response to the incident.

The cause remains under investigation, Coast Guard officials said.


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