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Two arrested over North Sea ferry fire
11:18am Sunday 29th December 2013 in News
Two men have been arrested after a fire on board a ferry sparked an emergency rescue and forced it to return to port at North Shields.
Two crew members and four passengers had to be winched off the DFDS North Sea ferry after they breathed in smoke when the blaze broke out in a cabin room 30 miles from land around 11pm last night.
A 26-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of arson and a 28-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of affray, a spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said.
Passenger Steven Basford said: ''We've been told we can't get off until the police have finished their investigation. They're going door-to-door so we just have to wait.''
The 28-year-old, from Northumberland, who was travelling to Amsterdam with his partner Vic Liang to celebrate New Year with friends, said a fight broke out between two male passengers during the evacuation.
''We were in our room at about 10.40pm last night when they raised the general fire or emergency alarm with seven high pitched siren noises,'' he said.
''We were told to evacuate outside the ship and when we got outside they asked us to converge around the lifeboats.
''The fire was on our floor but on the other side of the ship. When we climbed up to the communal area we could see the smoke. It wasn't thick but it was definitely noticeable.
''People were generally pretty calm. Obviously people had had a lot to drink. It's a bit of a party boat. Two big blokes started brawling.''
Gert Jakobsen, a spokesman for ferry operator DFDS Seaways, said he hoped all of the 946 passengers - some of whom have already been allowed to disembark - will be able to leave the ship shortly.
The fire broke out in a passenger cabin around 10.45pm and was extinguished by 11pm.
RAF helicopters from Leconfield near Hull and Boulmer, Northumberland were scrambled to the vessel along with RNLI lifeboats from Bridlington and Filey.
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