River Cruise Crew Extinguishes Dockside Fire

The crew of a Chicago Architecture Foundation River Ride, after hearing an explosion off of Michigan Avenue at the Chicago River Wednesday morning, worked to put out the subsequent fire, the charter company's chief engineer said.

The fire occurred about 10:30 a.m. at Lower Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue, according to Fire Media Affairs spokesman Quention Curtis.

Mike McElroy, Chief Engineer for Mercury Yacht Charters, which hosts the Chicago Architecture Foundation's River Ride, said there was a propane explosion at a dockside eatery. Curtis said the fire was in a trailer.

"The chef working there was burned on his hands," McElroy said.

The explosion was next to the boat and McElroy said the boat's  aptain, Charles Broux, maneuvered the boat closer to the fire so his crew could extinguish it. The crew used fire extinguishers and a hose to put out the fire. Their boat is equipped with those pieces of equipment and the crew trains to use them, McElroy said.

"I'm pretty proud of them," and the way they sprung into action, he said. 

Four people were taken from the scene to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Curtis said. Two were in fair to serious condition, one was in good condition and one was in serious to critical condition, he said.

Deckhand Jessica Herum, who helped to put out the fire, was one of those taken to Northwestern Memorial, McElroy said. She was being checked for smoke inhalation, he said. Bar manager Nick Karianis used the River Ride's hose to put out the fire, which McElroy said stubbornly kept re-igniting.

The crew managed to get the fire under control by the time Chicago Fire Department personnel got to the scene, at which point they made sure the fire was out.  

In addition to the Chicago Fire Department, the Chicago Police Marine Unit and the U.S. Coast Guard responded to the scene, McElroy said.

Fire investigators were at the scene Wednesday morning.

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