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6 crewmen unhurt as tugboat engine catches fire northwest of Maui

By Gary T. Kubota

LAST UPDATED: 9:52 a.m. HST, Dec 7, 2012

Coast Guard crews aided a tugboat whose engine caught fire Wednesday 69 miles northwest of Maui.

The tug Phyllis Dunlap is under tow to Honolulu and was scheduled to arrive between 2 and 4 a.m.

The tug was in transit from Seattle to Honolulu, towing a barge called the Westward Trader, when it experienced a disabling engine room fire at about 2 p.m. Wednesday, the Coast Guard said.

The tug’s fire suppression system was activated, and the fire was extinguished at about 2:30 p.m.

But the tug lost power and was rear-ended by the barge.

The Coast Guard cutter Galveston Island, along with helicopter and airplane crews from Barbers Point, were sent to assist the tug. 

The Sause Brothers tug Kokua arrived and began towing the Phyllis Dunlap and its barge at 10:15 p.m. Wednesday.

None of the six crewman was injured, and only superficial damage occurred to the Dunlap.

The Coast Guard said the cause of the fire is under investigation.

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