Firefighters converge on USS Midway, an aircraft carrier-turned-museum

Posted at 12:12 PM, Jul 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-15 12:12:33-04

(CNN) — The USS Midway, an aircraft carrier-turned-museum, was evacuated early Wednesday as firefighters converged on the iconic ship and found smoke, authorities said.

San Diego fire department spokesman Lee Swanson said shortly before 7 a.m. (10 a.m. ET) that firefighters had found “light smoke” in an area where construction is underway two levels below the flight deck.”

“We have … not located (a) fire,” Swanson added, noting that crews have noticed excessive heat. “We have most of our units staged and available. And we are working with the museum and volunteers to get access to find the source.”

Video from CNN affiliate KFMB showed numerous fire trucks parked just outside the aircraft carrier, one of which had a large ladder extended. Firefighters walked back and forth on the ladder, onto the front of the ship, as emergency crews watched from below.

While the USS Midway Museum doesn’t open until 10 a.m., Swanson said that there were people aboard the carrier at the time of the incident and that all of them were evacuated. There are no indications, so far, that anyone has been killed or hurt.

Put into action just after World War II ended, and named after a Pacific island that was site of one of that conflict’s biggest battles, the Midway was in service until being decommissioned in 1992. During that time, the 1,000-foot long, nearly 70,000-ton ship and its sailors ventured into all the world’s oceans during Navy missions, including roles in Vietnam and the 1990-91 Gulf War.

Now docked in San Diego Bay, the Midway is “the most-visited floating naval ship museum in the world,” according to its website. Converted to this new role in 2004, the carrier features more than 60 exhibits and 29 restored aircraft.

Despite the scare, more will get a chance to visit Wednesday. The USS Midway Museum tweeted thanks to the San Diego fire department “for the incredible response” and said that all was well aboard the ship.

“We’re OK!” the museum said. “… Everyone is fine, and we plan to open at 10 a.m. as scheduled.”