Fire breaks out on Carnival Freedom while Port Canaveral-based ship was in Grand Turk

A fire broke out Thursday morning in the funnel area of the Carnival Freedom cruise ship while it was docked in Grand Turk.

The Port Canaveral-based Carnival Freedom was carrying about 2,500 passengers and a crew of about 1,100, according to Matt Lupoli, senior manager of public relations at Carnival Cruise Line. No injuries were reported.

In a statement released by Lupoli, Carnival said: “Carnival Freedom’s emergency response team quickly activated and extinguished a fire inside the ship’s funnel while the ship was in Grand Turk. All guests and crew are safe, and the ship’s guests were cleared by local authorities to go ashore. We continue to assess the situation.”

Katie Bushnell took this photo of the funnel fire on the Carnival Freedom while she was aboard Carnival’s Mardi Gras in an adjacent cruise berth at Grand Turk.

Carnival Freedom left Port Canaveral on Monday on a five-day cruise.

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Among the passengers on the ship were Jenny Fleming and her mother, Carol Reich, both of Palm Bay. Fleming said they were among the first to report the fire.

“Mom and I were sitting on the balcony, drinking coffee, as we were docking, and some amazing people on the (Carnival) Mardi Gras next to us start screaming at us that there’s a fire,” Fleming said. “Mom runs inside and calls 911, and we were apparently the first to report it.”

Fleming said they reported the fire at 7:30 a.m. Everyone was told to report to their muster stations for 20 to 30 minutes while Carnival’s crew assessed the situation. Passengers got the all-clear to go ashore at 8:40. 

“All of the crew were amazing at keeping us informed and making sure we knew where we needed to go,” Fleming said. “Lots of passengers were distressed, and there was chaos at first. But, then, once everyone got to the muster station, order was restored.”

Katie Bushnell of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was on the Mardi Gras, another Port-Canaveral-based ship that was docked next to the Carnival Freedom at Grand Turk, and witnessed the incident.

Passengers debark the Carnival Freedom, at right, on Thursday morning to spend the day in Grand Turk, after a funnel fire on the ship was brought under control. At left is Carnival's Mardi Gras. Both ships are based at Port Canaveral.

Passengers debark the Carnival Freedom, at right, on Thursday morning to spend the day in Grand Turk, after a funnel fire on the ship was brought under control. At left is Carnival’s Mardi Gras. Both ships are based at Port Canaveral.

“We woke up around 7:30 a.m., and I hear people screaming outside our room,” said Bushnell, who was on the cruise with a number of family members. “I go on our balcony, and people are saying ‘the ship is on fire!’ I look up and see black smoke billowing out from a ship, and I thought it was ours.”

Soon, “we realize people were screaming from our ship to the other ship. I start trying to get the right view of the other ship, and, sure enough, we see their ship on fire. It was raging and growing bigger and bigger. I was so scared because it was just beginning, and the staff was just being alerted. So we watched it and tried alerting others on their balcony on the other ship.”

In a Facebook post describing the fire, Bushnell wrote: “The firefighters on the Freedom gained control, and it’s totally fine now. Thank goodness. It was a crazy thing to watch, and I was really scared for the passengers on the Freedom. The wind was blowing very hard, and the fire seemed to grow bigger and bigger. I wasn’t sure how they would contain it. But the staff is very well-trained.”

A cruise ship funnel generally serves as a smokestack to lift emissions above the deck, thus away from passengers and crew.

Grand Turk is part of the Turks and Caicos Islands, located north of the island of Hispaniola, the island that includes the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Finch Walker is a Breaking News Reporter at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Walker at 321-290-4744 or fwalker@floridatoday.com. Twitter: @_finchwalker

Dave Berman is business editor at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Berman at dberman@floridatoday.com. Twitter: @bydaveberman.

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This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Port Canaveral-based Carnival Freedom has fire while docked in Grand Turk

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