FIREFIGHTERS dealt with an hydraulic fluid leak on the Sandbanks Ferry on Friday afternoon on only the vessel’s second day back in service.

There had been initial reports of a fire, which was later identified as the leak under pressure generating steam and triggering the fire alarms.

The ferry docked at Sandbanks shortly before 3.30pm and all vehicles disembarked before fire crews came on board to inspect the situation.

Deborah Baker, who witnessed the incident from the shore, said: “The fire alarms started going and you could hear people shouting “get everybody and all the cars off”.

“It seemed quite chaotic and at first I thought there was a fire in the engine room.

“They couldn’t get the cars off quick enough.

“The crew knew there was a problem and dealt with it well.”

Two fire engines were sent to Ferry Way following a 999 call.

Swanage and Wareham Voice:

Mark Downing, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service watch manager at Poole, said: “We were called to a fire unknown on the Sandbanks Ferry.

“Staff suspected there had been a hydraulic failure because there was a great deal of steam in the engine room.

“This caused the fire alarms to go off. The crew shut everything down and called us.

“There was no fire but we treated it as a fire. We deployed two breathing apparatus and one hosereel jet. Gas monitors were also used.

“The hydraulic fluid leak was caused by a very small hole under high pressure. It was contained to the vessel and no injuries were sustained.

“Expert engineering staff were called to assess where the leak came from.

“Two members of the ferry's crew were checked by paramedics as a precaution.”

Swanage and Wareham Voice:

The ferry only went back into service on Thursday afternoon following a seven-week period of annual winter maintenance work.

Yesterday evening investigations were ongoing into the leak and it is not known when the service will resume.