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25 Injured in Ship Fire

January 17, 1986

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) _ Workers cleaning a government freighter in drydock with grease-removing solvent touched off a fire Thursday,injuring 25 people, two critically, authorities said.

Ten workers were trapped for about an hour inside the Pioneer Contractor before finding their way out.

The 6 a.m. fire began when workers wee removing grease from the interior of the ship’s holds with an industrial solvent when something caused a spark and it ignited, said Dan Whichard, a spokesman for the shipyard.

″They said they (saw) a ball of fire and that was it,″ said Fire Chief Paul T. Stanforth.

Two workers were admitted to the John Sealy Hospital burn unit in critical condition, said hospital spokeswoman Mona Garza. Twenty-three other workers and firefighters were taken to John Sealy and St. Mary’s Hospital, and all but three were admitted for smoke inhalation. The freighter carries bulk cargo for the Navy but has been out of commission for several years, officials said.

The ship has been at Todd Shipyards on Galveston’s Pelican Island since Dec.4. The vessel had been in mothballs in Orange.

The fire was under control within two hours, authorities said.

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