Shelter-in-place order lifted after crews fight barge fire on Ohio River

Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 4:10 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 29, 2023 at 9:19 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A maintenance barge caught fire on the Ohio River near Sayler Park on Wednesday afternoon, according to the Cincinnati Fire Department.

Cincinnati police and firefighters were dispatched to the scene around 3:30 p.m. between Bender Road and Anderson Ferry Road.

District Fire Chief Gregory Martin says units were delayed getting to the scene by a passing train that cut off access to the dock area from River Road and power lines that had come down at the dock because of the fire.

Due to the limited structural access to the fire, Martin says it took approximately two hours to knock it down.

In response to the fire, first responders issued a shelter-in-place for residents within 0.5 miles of the location and were told to turn off their HVAC and not go outside.

Anita Slayers, a River Road resident, was at her home when she was ordered to take shelter - something that has never happened in her neighborhood before.

“Yes, it was a spooky thing to hear,” she said. “This is a quiet neighborhood, usually. All we hear are the noises and sounds of the rivers and the barges and the trains.”

While staying inside her house for hours, Slayer says she baked cookies to pass the time.

“The smell is a stinky smell - it’s a fuel smell,” Slayer explained.

“There are no other chemicals, no hazard other than that smoke, which can be kind of irritating,” Cincinnati Asst. Fire Chief Matt Flagler explained.

The fire department lifted the shelter-in-place around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Due to the limited structural access to the fire, Chief Martin says it took about two hours to knock down the fire.

It is unknown what caused the fire to start, but Cincinnati police say there are no injuries as of now.

The Cincinnati Fire Department is still investigating.

This was the second barge-related incident on the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Louisville in the last 48 hours. Our sister station reports two barges broke loose from a vessel near the McAlpine Dam early Tuesday.

One of the cargo holds contained around 1,400 tons of methanol, though air quality samples have not shown evidence of hazards that pose a health risk, officials have said.

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