Ferry Fire: Man Arrested Over Suspected Arson

A 26-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of arson after a fire alert on a North Sea ferry sparked an emergency evacuation.

Northumbria Police said they had also arrested a 28-year-old man on suspicion of affray.

Four crew members and two passengers had to be winched off the ferry, which was heading to Amsterdam, after they inhaled smoke when the fire broke out 30 miles off the Humberside coast.

The six people were taken to Scarborough Hospital by RAF helicopter but are not thought to be in a serious condition.

A further 15 passengers and eight crew members were treated by doctors for smoke-related injuries on board the ferry.

The fire broke out in a cabin on the DFDS King Seaways ferry at around 10.45pm on Saturday night but was extinguished "within 15 minutes", according to the company.

RAF helicopters from Leconfield near Hull, and Boulmer, Northumberland were scrambled to the vessel along with two RNLI lifeboats from Bridlington and Filey.

The 30,000-tonne ship returned to Newcastle Ferry Port, in North Shields, at around 4am and passengers were kept on board until 9am while police investigated.

Police said earlier that a passenger had been detained by the ship's staff following the incident.

Olivia Elliott, who was in a nightclub on the ferry when the alarm went off, told Sky News she "panicked" not knowing how serious the situation was.

"(It was) scary out there in the middle of the ocean. You've never been in that situation before - you don't know what to do."

She added: "The captain came on the tannoy and said we needed to evacuate to the outer deck because there had been a fire.

"We were outside for about 40 minutes before we were allowed to go back in."

Despite the emergency, she said most people remained calm.

Another passenger, Steven Basford, said: "They sounded the fire alarms, high-pitched alarms, and then made an announcement we would have to evacuate to an outside deck.

"Then, when we started to evacuate to go further up the boat, you could see smoke in the corridors and in the common area and it hit home more then."

Lynn Smith-Davis told Sky News the ship's crew had handled the emergency well but that some passengers had started fighting.

She said: "There was no panic where we were, but then later on when we were inside sitting in the bar and cafe area some people started fighting - fights broke out, which really didn't help the situation."

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DFDS Seaways said 946 passengers and 127 crew members were on board the ferry and added that "psychological assistance" would be provided to anyone who needs it.

Spokesman Gert Jakobsen said the company would help people find alternative crossings to Amsterdam.

He added: "The cabin that was burnt is very damaged and there has been some smoke damage to surrounding cabins but the ship's function has not been affected in any way and is safe to travel."

According to the DFDS Seaways website, the 26-year-old vessel has room for over 1,500 passengers and 600 cars and was renovated in 2006.

It offers entertainment including restaurants, bars, a nightclub and a casino.

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