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FIRE ON IRISH FERRY KILLS 1, HURTS 25, AND THE OWNERS SUSPECT ARSON

SHARE FIRE ON IRISH FERRY KILLS 1, HURTS 25, AND THE OWNERS SUSPECT ARSON

A fire early Monday on an Ireland-bound car ferry killed one person, left 25 injured and appeared to be arson, the vessel's owners said. Passengers reported crawling through thick smoke to safety.

The fire started in two sleeping cabins in an unoccupied section of the ferry Norrona, which was carrying 297 people from Wales, the B and I shipping line said in a statement.It did not elaborate, but the company's marine superintendent, Capt. Peter McKenna, told Irish Radio that B and I, which is based in Dublin, Ireland, was "fairly certain about this." He said the company believes mattresses or lighted paper were used to start the fire. Police were interviewing all those on board.

The ferry was eight miles off the Welsh coast en route from Milford Haven, 180 miles west of London, to Rosslare, Ireland, when the fire was discovered. Firefighters and crew members controlled the blaze within two hours of the captain's mayday call, said coast guard spokesman George Clarke.

Survivors described crawling through thick smoke that choked corridors and cabins, 10 of which were damaged.

"I took the skin off my knees and toes, but we got out alive," said Fred Jenkinson, who was asleep in his cabin when he heard shouts and smelled smoke.