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Staff Respond Simultaneously To Downed Aircraft, Ferry Fire

Fire Island National Seashore

National Park News

On Sunday morning, rangers John Stewart, Jon Swindle and Luke DeDominici were responding to a report of a small, low-wing aircraft down on the beach near the community of Point O’Woods when they received a report of a ferry boat on fire that was coming into the dock in the community of Fair Harbor. DeDominici and rangers Jason Flynn and Amanda Hawkins took the airport incident, while Stewart and Swindle headed to Fair Harbor. The downed aircraft was found to be a four-seat Navion 225 with three people on board. None had been hurt in the landing. The pilot landed the rented aircraft on the beach when he noted the oil pressure dropping and saw oil leaking from under the engine cowling. None of it was spilled on the beach. The FAA responded to inspect the plane shortly after it landed, then released it to its owners. The wings were removed and a truck took it from the beach to a barge that brought it back to the mainland. Meanwhile, Stewart and Swindle joined local firefighters and police officers under a unified command to evacuate and account for all 135 passengers on the ferryboat Fire Island Bell. The 85-foot aluminum vessel, which is certified to carry up to 375 passengers, was added this summer to the Fire Island Ferry Company fleet, which provides service to the island’s westernmost communities.  According to the operations manager for the ferry company, "all the safety features, such as the automatic fire suppression systems, including intake air dampeners for the engines, worked perfectly. The fireproofing in and around the engine room localized the fire to the engine room." There were no reported casualties during the incident. Teams from United States Coast Guard, the Captain of the Port and the National Transportation Safety Bureau will be investigating the incident.


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