Skip to content

Manitoulin Island ferry damaged in Thunder Bay shipyard fire

Blaze originated in Chi-Cheemaun boiler room, cause under investigation
MS Chi-Cheemaun in Thunder Bay shipyard (Oct 2022)
(Heddle Shipyards photo)

The Chi-Cheemaun car ferry was extensively damaged in a shipyard fire in Thunder Bay on March 12.

Thunder Bay fire department responded to a 2:20 a.m. alarm to the Heddle shipyard where the 111-metre vessel was undergoing winter maintenance.

A fire department news release said the fire originated inside the boiler room deep inside the ship.

The first arriving unit encountered some light smoke upon entry to the ship and a second alarm was initiated to bring five pumpers to the scene. Staff on board the ship "managed to knock down the fire to great degree," the release said, and fire crews were able to bring the fire under control using CO2 fire extinguishers to extinguish the blaze.

The fire department said there was extensive damage to one of the ships boilers and electrical system. All fire damage was held to the room of origin with very light smoke in other areas of the ship which was cleared by the ventilation system. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The ship is operated by the Owen Sound Transportation Company, an agency of the Ontario government.

The Chi-Cheemaun is a ferry that sails Lake Huron between South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island and Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula. The service starts in early May and runs until mid-October.

The vessel headed to Thunder Bay after the sailing season ended last fall to undergo scheduled maintenance and its five-year hull marine survey in the dry dock.

The Chi-Cheemaun entered service in 1974 and can carry 140 standard North American-sized cars and 638 passengers.