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    Spirit of Norfolk Fire Hearings Begin This Week as Coast Guard Searches for Answers

    Spirit of Norfolk Fire Hearings Begin This Week as Coast Guard Searches for Answers

    The Coast Guard will hear public testimony beginning this week as part of its investigation of the fire that decimated the Spirit of  last summer.

    The series of hearings, which begin Thursday, will examine “all aspects of the fire and subsequent total constructive loss” and will include testimony from Spirit of Norfolk staff and passengers, industry experts, marine mechanics, and leaders in the Coast Guard, according to a statement from the Coast Guard. That will include a review of pre-accident events, regulatory compliance, crewmember duties and qualifications, mechanical systems, emergency response and Coast Guard oversight of the vessel.

    More than 100 people were aboard the passenger vessel for a two-hour lunch cruise on the Elizabeth River June 7 when a fire started in engine room. The 106 passengers, including 89 schoolchildren, were evacuated. No one was injured but the boat burned for nearly five days before the fire could be fully extinguished.

    Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath, commander of the Fifth Coast Guard District, ordered a formal investigation to determine causing factors of the fire, examine the response and identify any other information that can improve maritime safety. At this time, there is no known cause of the fire.

    The hearings will be held at the Virginia Beach Council chambers on the second floor, which is located at 2401 Courthouse Drive, in Virginia Beach. Meetings…

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