Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Solent ferry fire prompts Wightlink smoking ban

ferry fire Image copyright Christopher Ison Photography
Image caption Wightlink said the "small fire" was in a "non-passenger" area and no one was hurt

A smoking ban is being imposed on ferries after it emerged a fire on board a boat crossing the Solent started in a cigarette bin.

The blaze started on the deck of the St Faith vessel during a sailing from Portsmouth to Fishbourne on the Isle of Wight in January.

Wightlink said it was now banning smoking in all areas of its vessels.

Smoke was seen billowing from the ship at the height of the fire. None of the 65 people onboard were injured.

The fire on the 09:00 GMT sailing on 19 January was extinguished by the crew within minutes, with passengers confined to the lounge areas.

Chief executive Keith Greenfield said the smoking ban would mean a "healthier, safer and cleaner" service.

"We've been considering this policy for some months especially as most other public transport is smoke free.

"But the recent fire on St Faith, which started in a cigarette bin on an outside deck, confirmed that we should move forward and become a smoke-free ferry service."

Wightlink currently only permits smoking on the open decks of its car ferries.

The smoking ban comes into force on 18 April.

Rival Solent ferry company Red Funnel, which operates between Southampton and Cowes, said it had no plans to change its smoking policy.

A spokeswoman said it currently permits smoking on designated outside deck areas, in line with current regulations.

Cross-channel ferry companies Stena, P&O and Brittany Ferries also provide outdoor smoking areas on conventional ferries.

Image copyright Christopher Ison Photography
Image caption The ferry firm said the fire was extinguished by the crew "within minutes"
Image copyright Dennis Houghton
Image caption Smoke could be seen billowing from the ferry in the middle of the Solent

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