Escape From The Burning Nordlys
By James Donahue
The Norwegian passenger liner Nordlys was in the midst of
a six-day 1,500-mile cruise from Bergen north to Kirkenes, along the western coast of Norway when an explosion and fire broke
out in the engine room during the early morning hours of September 15, 2011.
The fire, believed caused by a leaking fuel line, killed
two crew members and hospitalized 16 other people. Two other crew members were seriously burned. Three rescue workers also
were treated for smoke inhalation.
About 100 passengers fled the ship in lifeboats before the
400-foot-long Nordlys, with thick black smoke billowing from its decks, moored at Aalesund. The rest of the passengers, totaling
207, evacuated to the dock as local firefighters were already boarding to battle the fire.
Fire fighters pumped so much water into the hull that the
vessel took on a dangerous list. For a while it was feared that the ship would capsize in the harbor. Pumps had to be put
on board to remove the water and right the ship.
There was so much smoke hanging over the town that residents
of Aalesund were asked to keep windows closed and turn off ventilation systems.
The Hurtigruten Line cruise ship is one of a fleet of three
vessels that ply the popular tourist route along Norway’s scenic coast each summer.
The Nordlys, a name that means The Northern Lights, was
built in Germany and put in service as both a passenger liner and car ferry in 1994.