Napier Port ship fire: Warnings to stay indoors as acrid smoke pours onto nearby homes

People nearby to a large fire broken out on a ship at Napier Port are being told to stay indoors, as potentially toxic smoke soars across the city.

Police and firefighters were called to a fire on a ship berthed in Napier Port at 10.45am.

By 11.20am, 11 fire appliances and urban search and rescue were in attendance, with fire crews from Palmerston North on their way. One ambulance is on stand-by.

A spokeswoman for Napier Port confirmed everyone was “safe and accounted for”.

The crew on board the ship at the time of the fire are currently within their 14-day isolation period, mandatory for all sea workers arriving in New Zealand to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

They were evacuated and had been transferred to another separate facility on port, she said.

“We are under the fire service command and they’re currently managing the situation.”

The spokesperson said a further update would be provided as more information became available.


A fire service spokesperson said there was “a lot of smoke around”.

“If you are affected, please close any windows. Contact Healthline if you need medical advice.”

A witness at the scene said people at the lookout began to leave the viewing platform as they started coughing.

“Smoke on Hornesy Rd is making it hard to breath. Our faces are beginning to sting.”

A police spokesperson urged people to stay away from the area and said the surrounding roads will be closed.

At 11.40am police wearing masks began evacuating the lookout, telling those there that fumes could be toxic.

Breakwater Rd, which leads to the port, was closed at 11.10am.


Photos suggest the fire has taken hold in the Kota Bahagia, a general 161m long cargo ship built in Singapore in 2011, which docked at the port at 3am on Thursday.

Truck driver Stuart Markham, currently in the queue at the port’s container terminal, said he and six other trucks are yet to be evacuated from the area.

“The amount of bangs going on is unreal – just lots of internal explosions,” he said.

“They’ve closed a hatch on the ship and the smoke is bellowing out from under a crane.

“The smoke was originally a grey, brown colour, but it’s turning more black.”

A witness at Bluff Hill lookout at the time the fire started said the ship had been unloading containers, when they heard “a couple of explosions”.


Witness Kendell O’Connor said she had seen the smoke pouring into the sky from Ahuriri.

O’Connor had driven toward Napier and said as she got closer, the ship was barely visible.

“It’s thick black smoke, you can barely see the ship. It’s billowing out of what looks like an engine.”

O’Connor said the fire, which stank of diesel, seemed to be isolated to the container ship.

Simon Wellum, a witness at the scene said, said it went from a small amount of black smoke before getting “really dark, really thick, really quickly”.

“They were trying to dampen down the flames with the fire pumps on board originally, but it didn’t make much difference and evacuated,” he said.

Another witness at the scene said the ship has a number of wind turbines aboard.

Napier Port’s annual shareholder meeting was taking place down the road at the Napier War Memorial Centre at the time the fire broke out.


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