Crew safe after Lower Mississippi towboat fire

A crew escaped unharmed from a towboat fire near West Helena, Ark., Wednesday that led the Coast Guard to close a 10-mile stretch of the Lower Mississippi River for more than seven hours.

The blaze on the 90’x28’, 1,800-hp Jacob Kyle Rusthoven was reported to Coast Guard watchstanders at 10:30 a.m. while the vessel was near mile marker 673.

The burning towboat was pushed to the Arkansas bank of the river, where firefighting efforts extinguished the blaze. The towboat, operated by Graestone Logistics LLC, Murray, Ky., was carrying a reported 13,300 gals. of fuel, but no pollution was reported, according to Coast Guard officials.

A waterway closure was declared between mile markers 664 and 674 until after the fire was put out and the vessel secured.

About the author

Kirk Moore

Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been a field editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for almost 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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