By Matt Pearce
12:46 PM PDT, April 25, 2013
Three people were in critical condition with burns Thursday after a series of blasts and fires tore through two barges in Mobile, Ala.
Officials reported a series of seven explosions on the Mobile Bay that started on one barge late Wednesday night, apparently setting two barges on fire. The flames were extinguished early Thursday morning.
It's unclear if any of the explosions came from the second barge.
The U.S. Coast Guard reported that one of the barges belonged to Kirby Inland Marine and said it was an empty compressed natural gas barge that had been docked for cleaning.
Officials for the Coast Guard and Kirby Inland Marine could not be immediately reached for comment.
The blasts were apparently fueled by raw gasoline, according to the Mobile Fire-Rescue Department, which said hazardous-materials workers found no lingering threats on the barges Thursday.
The first explosion occurred Wednesday at 8:40 p.m., and was felt 10 miles away. As explosions continued along the bay, officials cleared reporters and onlookers from the banks of the Mobile River.
The blasts happened near the beleaguered Carnival Triumph cruise ship, which has been moored in Mobile since falling adrift in the Gulf of Mexico with 4,000 passengers aboard in February.
In an early April incident, officials said strong winds blew the Triumph from its moorings, and the ship hit a stub pier that then collapsed into the Mobile River, killing one shipyard worker.
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