The car ferry ship MS Chi-Cheemaun caught fire deep in the ship’s boiler room in the early hours of March 12, 2022, while sitting in drydock in Thunder Bay this winter for its five-year inspection. “Chi-Cheemaun” (in folk orthography, or chi-jiimaan in the more standard Fiero double vowel spelling) literally means “big canoe” in Ojibwe.
“The initial fire attack was done by staff on board the ship who managed to knock down the fire to great degree,” the platoon chief said in a press release. “After some time, fire crews were able to bring the fire under control using CO2 fire extinguishers and totally extinguish the blaze.”
According to reports, the boiler room suffered extensive damage to one of the ferry’s boilers and the electrical system. According to TBFR, all fire damage was contained to the room of origin, with very light smoke in other areas of the ship cleared by the ship’s ventilation system. The fire’s origin is being investigated.
The MS Chi-Cheemaun is a passenger and vehicle ferry that travels across Lake Huron between Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula and South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, Canada. The ferry connects two geographically separate sections of Highway 6 and was built in 1974 to replace the MS Norgoma and SS Norisle. The ferry service is only available from mid-May to mid-October. Chi-Cheemaun, like her forefathers on Lake Huron, is owned by Owen Sound Transportation Company Limited, an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, and operates under contract to the Ministry of Transportation.
Time will tell how severe the damage is and whether it will cause the ferry’s sailing season, which is usually scheduled to begin in May, to be delayed.