The fire started from a light fixture (20cm x 20cm) in the lower crew cabin below water level. The fixture somehow short circuited itself, started smoking and finally ignited the plastic parts in it. In less than a minute the whole cabin was smoke packed and triggered a fire alarm.
While crew was investigating the cause of the fire it grew. By the time the location was found out, smoke was billowing out of the manhole that is used to enter the cabin. Chief Engineer Vivek who was first at location took closest powder extinguisher and blew 9kg of powder in the space. 2nd Engineer Sunil cutoff all power in the crew area. Vivek had seen the flames so next he shot 2.5 kg of CO2 onto the fixture in order to cool it down.
Then we waited for the powder and smoke to dissipate a bit while other crew took out heavy fire fighting gear, just in case. By the time we could enter the cabin we could ascertain that the fire had been put out. The fixture had burned intensely and melted the plastic grid on top of the light tubes and so the plastic had dribbled onto the deck which was also covered by a vinyl carpet that started melting as well. The fire had not caught on the deck but given time it would have done that.
The whole cabin was entirely covered in dry powder, so needless to say the stewardesses with the help of the deckies had a long evening emptying everything out onto open deck, cleaning it and putting it back. It took 2 days to have the whole mess put behind.
Just from this incident we can see how fast "normal" turns into "disaster".
As preventative measure we're checking all similar fixtures for any defects and as a long term solution we will find another kind of light that is of a different design.
Below is a recent article about yachts being burnt side by side in a marina, not the first time it happened:
Practical Boat Owner 5 Jan 2009, Boats destroyed in marina fire
Three motorboats in a marina in Wales have been destroyed in a fire which spread to three other boats before it could be extinguished.
Four appliances were sent to tackle the fires in Pwllheli Marina in Gwynedd at 2207 GMT on Sunday. A spokesman for North Wales Fire and Rescue Service told the BBC that three motor cruisers were completely destroyed by the fire, which spread to three more motor cruisers.
The main building at the marina was also affected by heat damage. An investigation into the cause of the fire will be carried out. Link to article
As a few older warning examples one can think of the Scandinavian Star disaster, a passenger ferry that burned down on the North Sea with many fatalities. Link to article
Fire onboard Universe Explorer: Link to article
Fire onboard m/y Al Riyadh in Greece while on hardstand. I was sleeping onboard another yacht just over the harbor basin while she was burning to total loss after 2 years of refit work, luckily nobody was hurt: Link to forum