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In brief: Chemical tanker adrift after fatal engine-room fire

CAPE BLANCO, Ore. – An engine-room fire has disabled a private, commercial chemical tanker 700 miles off the Oregon coast, and one crew member has died, the U.S. Coast Guard said Friday.

The fire was extinguished by the vessel’s own installed firefighting systems, but the 485-foot Bahamian-flagged tanker sustained damage to its generators, leaving the vessel unable to move, Petty Officer 2nd Class George Degener said.

The fire was reported to the Coast Guard on Wednesday. The fire’s cause wasn’t immediately known, and Degener didn’t know the circumstances of the crewman’s death.

The tanker left Los Angeles on Aug. 9, bound for South Korea with a cargo of propylene tetramer, a petroleum additive. The ship’s cargo areas are undamaged, and there have been no reports of any pollution, Degener said.

“Right now, there is no danger reported as far as stability. The tanker is still considered safe. They are just not able to move because propulsion is damaged,” Degener said.

The Coast Guard cutter Stratton, which has its home port in Alameda, California, arrived on the scene Friday to help the tanker’s 21 remaining crew members, who are from South Korea and China. Coast Guard marine engineers from the cutter will see if they can get the vessel moving under its own power, Degener said.

Seahawks fans buoyant until ferry overloaded

BREMERTON – A Seattle-bound ferry mistakenly loaded with 484 more passengers than it was rated to carry had to return to the dock and leave the overflow at the Bremerton ferry terminal late Friday afternoon as Seattle Seahawks fans tried to reach an evening preseason game.

When the captain’s call for volunteers netted only about 100 passengers, state troopers were asked to assist, the Kitsap Sun reported. State Patrol Sgt. Tina Martin said troopers told passengers the boat would not sail until it was no longer overloaded.

Washington State Ferries spokeswoman Marta Coursey said ferry staff apparently thought the Cathlamet could carry 1,600 passengers, when its capacity is 1,200. She said 1,684 passengers were loaded, so 484 had to leave.

Coursey said the Cathlamet left Bremerton about an hour late. She said she thought everyone left behind was able to board the next Bremerton-Seattle ferry.

Coursey said those taken off the boat were given vouchers for a free trip.

Lawsuit by parents of Susan Powell to proceed

TACOMA – A judge on Friday refused to dismiss a wrongful-death lawsuit brought against Washington state by the maternal grandparents of Josh Powell’s children.

Chuck and Judy Cox, the parents of Josh Powell’s missing wife, Susan, say state social workers did not do enough to keep the boys safe from their father.

When a state worker delivered 7-year-old Charlie and 5-year-old Braden to their father’s rented home in Graham, Washington, on Feb. 5, 2012, Josh Powell locked out the worker and ignited a fire that killed him and his sons. Josh Powell was a suspect in the 2009 disappearance in Utah of his wife.

At a Friday hearing, an attorney for the state said the Coxes’ lawsuit was without merit. Peter Helmberger, assistant attorney general, argued that social workers did nothing wrong in visitations between Powell and his sons.

However, a Pierce County Superior Court Judge denied a motion for a summary judgment, saying the case should be heard by a jury.