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Entries in Fire (8)

Monday
May272013

Grandeur of the Seas Cruise Ship Catches Fire

Bruno Vincent/Getty Images(FREEPORT, Bahamas) -- Passengers aboard Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas were awakened and sent to their muster stations after a fire on one of the cruise ship's decks early Monday morning. No injuries were reported.

Royal Caribbean International said the fire took place at around 2:50 a.m. ET on the mooring area of deck three of its 11 decks. The company said the fire was extinguished and the affected area was cordoned off. Guests were allowed to return to their staterooms, the company said around 7:15 a.m. ET.

The extent of the fire was not immediately clear but all systems were still operating on the ship, RCI said.

Medical staff reported two guests were treated after fainting, with one report of high blood pressure and another of cramps.

"In an abundance of caution, the captain deemed it necessary to muster all guests at their assembly stations. All 2,224 guests and 796 crew have been accounted for, and there have been no injuries of guests or crew reported. The safety of our guests and crew is our top priority, and we will continue to focus on their needs and concerns,” according to a statement from the company.

At 4:30, Royal Caribbean announced that it had canceled the remainder of the cruise.

“Unfortunately, the damage caused by the fire on Grandeur of the Seas will require us to cancel the rest of the voyage,” the statement from the company read.

Each guest will be receiving a full refund, and Royal Caribbean said it was making arraignments to return all its passengers to Baltimore.

The incident follows a series of highly publicized cruise ship mishaps. The Carnival Triumph cruise ship was idle for nearly a week at sea in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire on its way from Galveston, Texas, to Cozumel, Mexico in February. In April, it broke away from its mooring in Mobile, Ala. while 800 people were on board.

The ship had just begun to sail earlier this month out of the Port of Baltimore after $48 million in upgrades. Its new amenities, including a 220-square foot poolside movie screen, puts the boat among Royal Caribbean's two largest classes of ships, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.

Grandeur of the Seas was en route to CocoCay, Bahamas, as part of a seven-night trip that left Baltimore on May 24.

The itinerary included port calls to Port Canaveral, Fla.; CocoCay and Nassau, Bahamas.

Just last week, the Cruise Lines International Association introduced a cruise passenger bill of rights, stating when cruise lines will issue full or partial refunds for canceled or interrupted voyages, which many companies already offer.

In April, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. reported first quarter profit of $76.2 million, up from $47 million in the same quarter last year. Revenue increased 4.2 percent to $1.91 billion. The line has 21 ships and brands including Celebrity, Azamara, Pullmantur and CDF Croisières de France.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov262012

$1,200 a Life: Clothing Company Pays Peanuts to Families of Factory Fire Victims

STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A company that makes clothes for Sean Combs' clothing brand ENYCE and other U.S. labels reassured investors that a factory fire that killed 112 people over the weekend would not harm its balance sheet, and also pledged to pay the families of the dead $1,200 per victim.

In an announcement Monday, Li & Fung Ltd., a middleman company that supplies clothes from Bangladesh factories to U.S. brands, said "it wishes to clarify" that the deadly Saturday-night blaze at the high-rise Tazreen Fashions factory outside Dhaka "will not have any material impact on the financial performance" of the firm.

The fire broke out on the ground floor of the nine-floor building as hundreds of workers were upstairs on a late-night shift producing fleece jackets and trousers for the holiday rush at American stores, including Walmart, according to labor rights groups. Fire officials said the only way out was down open staircases that fed right into the flames. Some workers died as they jumped from higher floors.

 

After reassuring investors about its financial health, Li & Fung's statement went on to express "deepest condolences" to the families of the dead, and pledge the equivalent of $1,200 to each family. The company also said it would set up an educational fund for the victims' children.

As reported on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer earlier this year, Bangladesh has become a favorite of many American retailers, drawn by the cheapest labor in the world, as low as 21 cents an hour, producing clothes in crowded conditions that would be illegal in the U.S. In the past five years, more than 700 Bangladeshi garment workers have died in factory fires.

"[It's] the cheapest place, the worst conditions, the most dangerous conditions for workers and yet orders continue to pour in," said Scott Nova, executive director of Worker Rights Consortium, an American group working to improve conditions at factories abroad that make clothes for U.S. companies. Nova said the fire was the most deadly in the history of the Bangladesh apparel industry, and "one of the worst in any country."

Monday, U.S. companies extended condolences to the families of the victims, and scrambled to answer questions about the dangerous factory that had been making their clothes.

Walmart inspectors had warned last year that "the factory had violations or conditions which were deemed to be high risk," according to a document posted online.

Yet Walmart clothing continued to be made at the factory, according to workers groups who found clothing with Walmart's private label, Faded Glory, in the burned-out remains along with clothing for a number of other U.S. labels, including ENYCE, Dickies and a brand associated with Sears.

Walmart confirmed Monday that its clothes were being made at the Tazreen factory. Even though Walmart is famed for maintaining tight control over its supply chain, the company said its clothes were being made at the plant without its knowledge.

A Walmart spokesman said that the Tazreen factory "was no longer authorized to produce merchandise for Walmart. A supplier subcontracted work to this factory without authorization and in direct violation of our policies. Today, we have terminated the relationship with that supplier. The fact that this occurred is extremely troubling to us, and we will continue to work across the apparel industry to improve fire safety education and training in Bangladesh." Though Li & Fung is known to supply clothes to Walmart, and to have subcontracted work to the Tazreen factory, Walmart did not name the supplier it had fired.

Sears initially told ABC News the company "does not source from this factory. In addition, Sears recognizes that fire safety is a critical international issue that we intend to address through specialized training for management in those factories that produce merchandise for Sears Holdings."

Told that lingerie labeled True Desire, a Sears brand, had been found in the burned factory, a Sears spokesman said "any merchandise found at that factory should NOT have been manufactured there and we are currently investigating further." Sears said it had not used the Tazreen factory since 2011.

The president of ENYCE clothes, which is owned by Sean Combs, extended the firm's "deepest condolences [to] the families of the victims" and confirmed that ENYCE Kids is licensed to Li & Fung, "which operates, produces and oversees all manufacturing for the brand."

"Compliance and safety are important to us," said Jeffrey Tweedy, president of ENYCE, "and we expect all our licensees to have in place compliant standards for fire and safety conditions at any factory that may produce our brand."

Labor activists also said they found garments with the Dickies label in the factory, and provided photos. Dickies said in a statement that the company's "thoughts and prayers" were those affected by the fire, but that the company had concluded its production schedule "with this vendor earlier this year."

The statement also said that "it is standard operating procedure at Williamson-Dickie to ensure the global vendors and suppliers we work with provide a safe work environment in accordance with all applicable laws and fair labor practices."

ABC News reached out to Li & Fung's New York office for comment, but messages left Monday were not returned.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan252012

GM CEO to Appear Before Congress over Chevy Volt Fires

General Motors(WASHINGTON) -- The head of General Motors will appear before a Congressional Committee on Wednesday to answer questions regarding the safety of the new Chevy Volt following a recent investigation into its batteries catching fire.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began conducting tests on the all-electric car last June after fires broke out three weeks after the agency ran crash tests on the vehicle. On Nov. 25, the NHTSA opened an investigation to examine the post-crash fire risk.

Last Friday, the agency wrapped up its investigation and claimed that despite the disturbing incidents, "no discernible [safety] defect trend exists and that the vehicle modifications recently developed by General Motors reduce the potential for battery intrusion resulting from side impacts."

The NHTSA further concluded that it, "does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles."

However, Republican critics in Congress question the agency's judgment. They suspect a conflict of interest may be in play, considering the government still owns part of GM, and the Obama Administration is heavily invested -- literally and figuratively -- to show the Volt as a success, despite dismal sales and safety concerns.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov142011

Amazon Kindle Fire Ships, Sales Soar

Amazon.com(NEW YORK) -- Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet began shipping Monday, one day ahead of schedule, and at least one survey suggested demand for it may exceed that for Apple's iPad 2.

Retrevo, an online shopping guide, said it had done a survey showing that of people interested in having a tablet computer, 44 percent could consider buying the Fire, while just twelve percent said they were only interested in the iPad, which has been the market leader up to now.

The Fire has the advantage of being newer and cheaper -- $199 for the Fire vs. $499 and up for the larger iPad 2.

Tablets have carved out a big place in the consumer technology world, and the Fire's release coincides with another study showing that not only are people buying them in place of conventional computers, they're more engaged with them when they get them.

Ooyala, a firm that provides video support to many major brands, said it had found people, on average, watched videos 30 percent longer on a tablet than they did on a desktop computer, and they were twice as likely to watch a video in its entirety.

The report showed that attention spans are still short; fewer than 40 percent of those included in Ooyala's data watched an online video all the way through on a tablet. But that was considerably higher than for other types of devices.

About 30 percent watched videos in their entirety on a handheld mobile or through a TV connected to the Internet, and fewer than 20 percent of users finished a video if they were watching on a desktop computer. For longer programs, predictably, bigger screens still rule.

But the arrival of tablets, such as the iPad, Samsung's Galaxy Tab line, and Barnes & Noble's new Nook Tablet, show how quickly media patterns are changing.

The Project for Excellence in Journalism at the Pew Research Center reported last month that 53 percent of tablet owners use tablets to read news stories, about as many as use it for email (54 percent) -- and far more than for social networking (39 percent) or gaming (30 percent).

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep012011

Fuel Gel Makers Agree to Recall

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The government’s product safety watchdog is urging people to stop using decorative fuel gels that have caused dozens of injuries and two deaths. But the manufacturers agreed to recall the gels only after Consumer Product Safety Commission promised it would not show video of the products exploding in a testing lab.

“This is a voluntary recall,” CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said. “They asked us not to show the video that we made in our own laboratory. As part of the negotiations we agreed not to show the video.”

Tenenbaum announced nine companies have agreed to recall about 2 million jugs of the gel, which is poured into ceramic fire pots and ignited to create candlelight for decorative effect. The CPSC has recorded two deaths and 75 injuries, including 34 people hospitalized with second and third-degree burns from flash fires and explosions caused by the gel.

“Consumers should immediately stop using these products,” Tenenbaum said.

Most of the burn incidents, Tenenbaum said, involved people pouring liquid into the pots while there was still a lit flame that was hard to see.  The burning gel then splashed up and caused the burns.

Once the burning gel is on clothing or skin it can be difficult to remove.  Attempting to smother the flames just spreads them and can set other people on fire.

Nine companies have agreed to recall their fuel gel products: Bird Brain Inc., Bond Manufacturing, Sunjel Company, Fuel Barons Inc., Lamplight Farms Inc., Luminosities Inc., Pacific Decor Ltd., Real Flame and Smart Solar USA. Tenenbaum said a tenth firm, Marshall Group, pulled out at the last minute and refuses to recall its PatioGlo fuel.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun132011

Flaming Gel Pots Faulted in Burn Injuries; Retailer to Suspend Sales

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The Reyer family of Long Island, New York was preparing to celebrate life.  Now they're trying to ward off death.

Nancy Reyer's 14-year-old son, Michael Hubbard, was helping set up for his aunt's wedding celebration in Riverhead on May 28 when the family says a ceramic fire pot blew up, splattering him with flaming gel fuel.

"Now my son's with third-degree burns on his face and he might not live," Nancy Reyer said, sobbing.  "We're all laughing and having a good time, it was really nice and then…my nephew didn't know that the candle was lit and he poured some of the liquid and it just exploded, and all I saw was a flash and my son went up in flames."

Michael's condition is now grave, his organs threatening to shut down as he struggles for his life at Stony Brook University Medical Center on Long Island.

In Michael's case -- and others -- the victims say the fire seemed to be out, so they added more fuel.  That caused an explosion of flaming gel that they say stuck to their bodies like napalm and was incredibly hard to put out.

Fire departments around the country say it's a hazardous new product category.

The product that caused Michael's accident and two others in the past few weeks is the FireBurners ceramic pot with fire gel fuel, sold by Napa Home and Garden.  The company told The New York Times it asked its retailer, Bed Bath & Beyond, to stop selling the product on Friday.

But at a store in Maryland, ABC News easily found several fire pots and fuel bottles right on the shelves.  The most vivid warning about the danger of adding more fuel is printed on a piece of packaging that you throw away.

Napa said in a published interview that it's only heard a handful of complaints out of tens of thousands of products sold and that it now plans to put bigger, better warnings on its products.

Meanwhile, Bed Bath & Beyond sent ABC News a statement saying, "The safety of our customers and our associates is of paramount importance to us.  So in an abundance of caution and pending our investigation, Bed Bath & Beyond has instructed its stores nationwide to suspend selling this product."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec132010

NYC Considers "Crash Tax" for Accident Response

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Strapped for cash, a growing number of municipalities have begun charging for responding to accidents -- services that have long been covered by taxpayers.  Sometimes, the victim's insurer will pick up the tab for these new fees -- but sometimes the insurers will refuse to pay.

This past week, New York City joined the growing debate over what some are calling a "crash tax."  Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the city wants to begin charging accident victims hundreds of dollars each as one way to help plug the city's multimillion-dollar budget deficit.

Under Bloomberg's "crash tax" plan, car fires with injuries would incur a bill of $490.  A car fire with no injuries would cost $415.  And a crash with no injuries would receive a "discount" -- a bill of only $365.

Although critics say the New York Fire Department could easily find more savings in its budget -- such as by eliminating the paid drivers of fire chiefs -- Bloomberg said he had little choice.

"Would you like them to close fire houses?" Bloomberg said.  "I don't think so.  So they've got to raise the money."

Some municipalities have instituted accident-recovery fees at the prodding of collection companies that have offered their billing services, in return for a percentage of the revenue raised.  The AAA and the insurance industry oppose such fees, saying accident response and public safety are basic government services that should be paid for with general taxes.

"Crash taxes" are just some of the extreme measures states and cities are taking around the country to counter billions of dollars in budget deficits. 

In New York State, Gov. David Paterson has proposed legalizing ultimate fighting, a move that would generate $2.1 million a year.  Arizona slashed its Medicaid program, leaving 98 residents ineligible for life-saving organ transplants.  California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to open up the coast off of Santa Barbara to oil drilling to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenues.  And one of New Jersey's more crime-ridden cities, Camden, recently sent pink slips to about half of its 380-member police force.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov112010

Boeing 787 Dreamliner Fire Linked to Electric Panel Failure

Image Courtesy - PRNewsFoto(EVERETT, Wash.) -- Boeing said Thursday it is still investigating an incident that occurred Monday, which caused one of its new 787 Dreamliner aircraft carriers to perform an emergency landing.

According to the company's statement, an electric panel failed, which led to a fire involving an insulation blanket.

The damage to the panel is so extensive that it has been removed and will be replaced.  However, the surrounding area inspection will take several more days.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio