Tugboat pushing barge hits underwater pipeline, sparking massive blaze

Tugboat pushing barge hits underwater pipeline, sparking massive blaze

POSTED: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 9:00am

UPDATED: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 12:06pm

A Louisiana tugboat captain was critically injured Tuesday after the vessel hit a pipeline and caught fire.

Three other crew members were aboard the boat at the time of the incident. One was taken to a hospital but was listed in good condition.

Coast Guard officials said the tug was pushing a 154-foot barge when it hit the underwater pipeline about 6 p.m. Tuesday. The barge was carrying thousands of barrels of fuel.

The vessel, the barge attached to it and the pipeline continued to burn in Bayou Perot, near the town of Jean Lafitte, into early Wednesday. Coast Guard officials said firefighters planned to let the fire burn itself out because of the shallow water and intense flames.

The tug captain suffered second- and third-degree burns on more than 75 percent of his body. He was taken to West Jefferson Hospital for treatment before being sent to a burn unit in Baton Rouge.

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