Lifeboats deployed after fire on Irish Ferries’ boat with 200 people on board

The Isle of Inishfree operated by Irish Ferries

Laura ParnabyPA Media

Three lifeboats from Kent and a French tug were deployed in the Channel on Friday evening after a fire started on an Irish Ferries vessel with nearly 200 people on board.

HM Coastguard has said it was alerted to a blaze in the engine room of the Isle of Innisfree just after 5.30pm.

Irish Ferries, the boat's operator, said there were 94 passengers and 89 crew members on board, who are all "safe and accounted for".

The boat was midway through its journey from Dover to Calais when the fire began, and it was later extinguished.

A HM Coastguard spokesperson said: "All passengers and crew are accounted for and no injuries have been reported.

"RNLI Lifeboats from Dungeness, Dover and Ramsgate were sent along with a French tug to stand by the vessel.

"The three RNLI lifeboats have been stood down and the French Coast Guard is now coordinating the incident."

Irish Ferries said the lifeboats were despatched as a "precautionary measure" and the Isle of Innisfree is now "safely at anchor".

"As the situation is stable, no emergency assistance is expected to be required," a spokesperson said.

The operator later added that once the boat arrives in Calais, it will launch a "full investigation into the incident in conjunction with the relevant authorities".

"In the meantime, the Isle of Innisfree's imminent sailings have been cancelled, and affected customers are being contacted with alternative travel arrangements," it said.

"Irish Ferries would like to sincerely apologise to all passengers affected by this evening's incident, and the disruption to their onward journeys."

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