SATURDAY, AUG. 3, 1996

Cruise Ship Fire Called Suspicious

A cruise-ship fire that killed five crewmen is being called a suspicious blaze by investigators, though they said Friday that they had not determined if it was deliberately set.

Investigators have been unable to turn up any evidence pointing to an accidental cause for the laundryroom fire July 27 aboard the Universe Explorer, said fire Chief Charles Lundfelt.

The fire, believed to have started in piles of linen, spread to two other decks more quickly than it should have if it were touched off by accident, Lundfelt said.

The vessel’s 732 passengers were mustered at lifeboat stations, though the crew was able to put out the fire and bring the ship to Juneau, where passengers were ferried on sightseeing boats. The fire broke out while the ship was near Admiralty Island just west of Juneau.

The Universe Explorer arrived Friday in Vancouver, British Columbia, for repairs.

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