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Backfire causes small fire aboard Shell drill ship

Associated Press Published: November 16, 2012

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A small fire on board a Shell Oil drill ship in an Alaska port was quickly extinguished Friday.

Shell Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith said the fire started after an engine backfired on the Noble Discover drill ship.

"Upon engine startup this morning, the Noble Discoverer experienced a loud engine backfire followed by a very small residual fire that was quickly extinguished by the crew," Smith said.

The fire was out within five minutes, he said. No one was injured.

"It's not uncommon for a combustion engine to experience a backfire," Smith said.

The backfire likely was heard by everyone in Dutch Harbor, Smith said. The harbor is a major U.S. fishing port and is part of the Aleutian Island community of Unalaska.

Shell did not call in local authorities.

Unalaska Fire Chief Abner Hoage said a dispatcher took a call on a plume of smoke above the vessel at 10:22 a.m.

The vessel was near but not secured to the Coast Guard dock, he said.

Hoage drove to the harbor and was within sight of the vessel within three minutes.

"There was no smoke, no visual indication that anything was going on," he said.

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