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Submarine Miami catches fire at shipyard

May. 24, 2012 - 12:04PM   |   Last Updated: May. 24, 2012 - 12:04PM  |  
Fire aboard nuclear submarine Miami at Portsmouth ...
Fire aboard nuclear submarine Miami at Portsmouth ...: A fire broke out aboard the nuclear submarine Miami on May 23, 2012, while it was at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Maine. (WCSH-TV)
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Smoke rises from a fire on the submarine Miami at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, on Wednesday. (Jean Mackin via AP)
Smoke rises from a dry dock as fire crews respond Wednesday to a fire on the Miami submarine at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on an island in Kittery, Maine. (Ionna Raptis / The (Portsmouth, N.H.) Herald via A)

KITTERY, Maine — Officials vented smoke and noxious fumes from a nuclear-powered submarine at a Maine shipyard Thursday so they could get inside to assess damage from a fire that took hours to put out.

Firefighters from the shipyard and coastal departments in Maine and New Hampshire spent Wednesday night and early Thursday fighting the fire on the Miami. Five firefighters and two submarine crew members were hurt, but the injuries were minor.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

Rear Adm. Richard Breckenridge, commander of Submarine Group Two, said firefighters isolated the flames so they would not spread to nuclear propulsion spaces. There was nuclear fuel on board the sub, but the reactor has been shut down for two months and was unaffected.

The firefighters battled intense heat, smoke and noxious fumes in cramped spaces, Breckenridge said.

"There are a lot of heroes that worked together to save the ship," he said.

Crews responded at about 5:40 p.m. Wednesday to the Miami, which was in dry dock at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on an island in Kittery, near Portsmouth, N.H. It was not clear how many people were aboard at the time. The submarine is in the third month of a 20-month maintenance period.

Breckenridge said the fire started in the four forward compartments, which include living and command and control spaces.

No weapons were on board.

The Miami has a crew of 13 and 120 enlisted personnel. It arrived at the shipyard on March 1 to undergo maintenance work. It was commissioned in 1990 and its home port is Groton, Conn.

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