A small fire on Friday on the Delta Queen forced the evacuation of the riverboat.
John Price, an assistant manager on the boat, was on the top deck Friday, around 5 p.m., when he noticed smoke billowing up from the river side of the boat. Mr. Price activated the fire alarm, called 911 and immediately ordered the evacuation of the riverboat.
When Chattanooga firefighters arrived moments later, the evacuation was still ongoing. Captain Lesley Morgan with Engine 12 said she could see smoke coming from the side of the boat, but could not determine where the fire was actually located. Using a thermal imaging camera, the firefighters located the fire inside what boat personnel called the "bumper rail."
Captain Morgan said the fire engine was parked too far away to do anything quickly, so a section of hose was taken off the fire truck and carried to the fire boat, which also responded to the emergency. Using river water pumped by the fire boat, the firefighters were able to get the fire out quickly. Randy Ingram, who manages the riverboat along with his wife, said the damage to the riverboat was negligible. No injuries were reported.
Mr. Ingram said the Delta Queen, which is docked at Coolidge Park, employs 40-50 people, and there were about 100 patrons on board when the fire was discovered.
There were initial reports that the fire may have started around the generator, but Battalion Chief Charles Patton says that does not appear to be the case. The cause of the fire is under investigation.