Sweden asks Norway to help as fire on timber ship threatens to spread

December 8, 2021 10:19 AM EST

Firefighting boats work as timber cargo burns on the Liberian-flagged Almirante Storni bulk carrier, off Gothenburg, Sweden December 4, 2021 in this image obtained from social media. Picture taken December 4, 2021. Mikael Holst Mattsson via REUTERS/Files

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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden has asked Norway for assistance in fighting a fire that started on a cargo ship carrying timber off Sweden's west coast on Saturday as it risks spreading, authorities said.

Harsh weather had so far made it difficult to extinguish the fire. The Swedish coast guard said it was now hoping to tow the vessel, Almirante Storni, into a port or calm conditions.

"That would increase our chances of carrying out a more efficient work," a coast guard spokesperson said.

There was no imminent risk of an oil spill as fuel tanks were not yet affected, the spokesperson said.

The fire had not spread to the ship itself, but the heat was spreading throughout the cargo, increasing the risk that the fire would gain strength, he said.

He added that neighbouring Norway would assist Swedish authorities later on Wednesday in efforts to extinguish the fire, which was continuing into its fifth day.

There have been no injuries related to the fire on Almirante Storni, which contains 600 tonnes of fuel and is anchored off Gothenburg.

The crew of 17 has not been evacuated from the vessel, which sails under the Liberian flag.

(Reporting by Helena Soderpalm; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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