A distressing event unfolded as the Genius Star XI, a large cargo ship transporting lithium-ion batteries from Vietnam to San Diego, caught fire in the Pacific Ocean. The incident occurred on Christmas Day in cargo hold No. 1, prompting a rapid response from the 19-member crew. Despite the severity of the situation, all crew members successfully reached shore unharmed. Upon discovering the fire, the crew acted promptly by releasing carbon dioxide into the affected hold and sealing it to avert a potential explosion. Early Thursday morning, the US Coast Guard was alerted, diverting the 125-meter cargo ship to Dutch Harbor, located in Unalaska, an Aleutian Islands community southwest of Anchorage. The ship arrived on Friday, but safety precautions led authorities to order it to remain two miles offshore to minimize risks associated with burning lithium-ion batteries and toxic gases. Unalaska’s acting city manager, Marjie Veeder, expressed the city’s primary concern for the health and safety of its community members, the environment, fisheries, and commerce. With an emphasis on precaution, a one-mile safety zone around the vessel was established. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Mike Salerno reiterated the commitment to prioritizing the safety of Unalaska residents and surrounding communities. Despite the challenging circumstances, the ship’s owners reported no oil leaks associated with the incident. A team of marine firefighting experts conducted an assessment of the vessel, revealing no signs of structural deformation or blistering outside of the cargo hold. This team continues to be on board, actively evaluating the situation to determine the next course of action. As the Genius Star XI remains anchored offshore, efforts persist to extinguish the fire and assess potential risks. The collaborative endeavors of the crew, Coast Guard, and local authorities underscore the importance of prioritizing safety and environmental concerns in the face of maritime emergencies. The situation remains dynamic, with ongoing monitoring and strategic decision-making to safeguard the well-being of the community and the surrounding environment.

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