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The fire was extinguished after witnesses reported a possible lightning strike on the Carnival Freedom cruise ship

The fire was extinguished after witnesses reported a possible lightning strike on the Carnival Freedom cruise ship

(CNN) — Heath Barnes opens his book on the upper decks of the Carnival Freedom cruise ship bound for the Bahamas. It was raining. But he told CNN that Saturday afternoon was the “most thunder and lightning I've ever heard” at his retreat.

Barnes, of Woodsboro, Maryland, drove back and minutes later his nephew and two of his nephew's friends, both 16, learned the boat was on fire.

“I thought they were giving me a hard time, but I got up and went out on the balcony and sure enough, there were flames and smoke coming out of the tail,” said Barnes, who shared footage of the incident with CNN.

Heath Barnes photographed flames and smoke coming from the exhaust funnel of the Carnival Freedom cruise ship near the Bahamas on March 23. Heath Barnes

According to a news release from Carnival Cruise Line, cruise officials said the fire broke out in the port side of the ship's exhaust funnel around 3:15 p.m. local time.

Eyewitnesses said the ship may have been struck by lightning, but that has not been confirmed and the cause is still under investigation, the shipping company said.

While the ship's firefighters were working to put out the fire, the cruise ship's captain steered the ship to an area where heavy rain was falling to help put out the fire.

The fire was extinguished after about two hours. No injuries were reported among guests, but two fire crew members were treated for minor smoke inhalation, the cruise line said.

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According to Carnival, the port side of the exhaust funnel fell onto the ship's 10th deck as a result of the fire.

The ship was about 32 kilometers from the island of Eleuthera, Bahamas, when the fire broke out. According to the report, the incident began while the ship was en route to Freeport.

Passengers were able to attend dinner as scheduled on Saturday night and all areas of the ship were fully operational from Sunday except for the open decks, the cruise line said.

The ship visited Freeport on Sunday and Carnival said there were no operational problems with the ship's systems. “Carnival does not anticipate any impact on Carnival Freedom's next voyage, which is scheduled to depart Port Canaveral on Monday, March 25,” the statement said.

The US Coast Guard was notified of the incident.

Passengers were asked to remain in their rooms until about 5:40 a.m. after the fire, Barnes said.

This will be her 18th cruise on Carnival Cruise.

“It's very interesting,” he said. “It's not their fault, it's Mother Nature.”