Two crewmen saved from the burning fishing vessel Amaltal Colombia have been admitted to Christchurch Hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning.
And the man who ultimately saved those men and the rest of the crew spoke for the first time today about the battle to put out a raging on-board inferno.
Fire crews stood by as the boat arrived under tow at Lyttelton still smouldering.
"They entered the vessel and starting fighting the fire about one o'clock," said Talley's Nelson division chief executive Tony Hazlett. "They took about three hours and they put it out."
Captain Chris Patrick was still at the helm after first learning of the fire on board at 10.05am yesterday.
"I basically just pulled my pants on and sprinted up the stairs," he said. "By that stage, there was already smoke just billowing from the vessel, and all the crew were coming out and assembling."
Patrick said the fire spread quickly and was soon engulfing the upper deck.
"It was extremely tough. It was pitch black - you couldn't see two centimetres in front of your face."
They fought the flames for four hours before realising it was hopeless.
"We used up the oxygen pretty fast, so that was one of the main reasons for my decision to get off," said Patrick.
All 43 on board made it safely to the liferafts and onto passing vessels.
"I was actually amazed how relaxed everybody seemed."
Transport accident investigators are waiting to board the Columbia.
"They certainly have to make sure the ship is safe for fumes and combustion products and the like before people can safely go below decks," said Peter Williams of the Transport Accident Investigation Commission.
Talley's is confident that 95% of the 350 tonnes of frozen fish on board has escaped fire damage and is still fit for sale. Once it's all off-loaded, the ship will be towed from Lyttelton on Saturday to its home port of Nelson.
Talley's suspects an electrical fault was to blame. It says Amaltal Colombia will need a total refit and hopes it will be back on the water in six months.