Great Lakes Freighter Catches Fire on Lake Erie

By Thomas F. Keefer, The Chicago Times

May 25, 2023

LAKE ERIE – A fire broke out Tuesday night on a lake freighter off the western shores of Lake Erie.

According to the US Coast Guard, an engine-room fire broke out on the Canadian owned MV Cuyahoga around 10 pm Tuesday off the Canadian coast near Pelee Island.  The fire was reported to be contained to the engine room.  Eight crew members were removed for safety Wednesday morning, by the Canadian Coast Guard vessel Cape Dundas, while 12 remained aboard to monitor the situation.

MV Cuyahoga of Pelee Island. Photo: US Coast Guard, Twitter.

It was reported that two US Coast Guard vessels from the Marblehead station (Atlantic Area), two civilian freighters, and two Canadian Coast Guard vessels rendered aid to the stricken Cuyahoga.  According to, the Cuyahoga was launched in 1943 as the J. Burton Ayers and later sold to the Canadian owned Lower Lakes Towing Ltd and was re-christened the Cuyahoga.  As of today, the Cuyahoga is the second oldest vessel in the Canadian fleet.

Lake freighters generally carry loads of rock, ore, salt, or grain throughout the Great Lakes region and generally operate from Spring to late Fall.  The Cuyahoga engine fire comes nearly one week after the grounding of the lake freighter MV Mark W. Barker in the Detroit River.

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