Fuel cleanup continues after Tarpon Springs boat fire - WNCN: News, Weather

Fuel cleanup continues after Tarpon Springs boat fire

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Skye Marie after fire Skye Marie after fire
Firefighters remain at the Tarpon Springs dock to make sure the fire doesn't reignite Firefighters remain at the Tarpon Springs dock to make sure the fire doesn't reignite
TARPON SPRINGS, FL (WFLA) -
Divers will inspect the burned out hull of a shrimp boat first thing Thursday morning to see if any diesel or hydraulic fluid is still leaking from it.
 
"Our main concern is eliminating the pollution threat and that's what we're doing right now," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Sullivan, a Marine Science Technician for the U.S. Coast Guard.
 
Crews from federal and state agencies worked alongside vacuum trucks into the night Wednesday, soaking up the oily water mixture around the Skye Marie, which fire tore through starting around 7:45 Tuesday night.
 
Sullivan said teams had contained about 2,200 gallons of the oily water mixture by sundown on Wednesday. City estimates earlier in the day said there was as much as 6,000 gallons onboard when the boat burned.
 
"Right now we have the threat contained," Sullivan said. "It's a minimal threat right now. It's all contained within boom: Hard boom and them secondary absorbent boom around that, so there's no chance of the product being released outside of the containment area."
 
The Skye Marie will stay where it is for now.
 
"Right now it's not a hazard to navigation," Sullivan said. "It's not in the middle of the channel."
 
Florida Fish and Wildlife and Department of Environmental Protection officers on scene are constantly checking to see if the incident is impacting wildlife.
 
"We haven't seen anything as of yet.  FWC and DEP have been on multiple rides up and down the river," Sullivan said. "There will be a minimal impact to the environment as with any discharge but as of right now we haven't seen any animals affected."
 
Crowds of locals are constantly coming to see the site.

"That man has lost his livelihood for now," said Ann Perdikos as she looked at what was left of the Skye Marie. "I have to say it could've been a lot worse because of where it's situated."

Bill Harris owns the 85-foot boat. He said he's made his living fishing for shrimp in Tarpon Springs for more than 40 years.

"I just want to apologize to everybody in Tarpon Springs, the commercial fishermen, or anybody that my boat damaged in this fire. I'd like to just say I'm sorry. But I'm thankful for the fire department. They did everything they could do. There ain't much more than you could ask," said Harris. "I know it's not my fault, but it's still my business and my boat that's done this."

He does not know what sparked the fire.

"I have no idea. I was here from 2 o'clock to 5 o'clock today just working on the boat, doing regular maintenance. There was no power to the boat. No generators or engines were running," explained Harris. "All I can say is it had to be an act of God."

On Wednesday, Harris' daughter, Carly Caza, and a family friend raised questions about how the fire was put out, saying using water on the flames caused the fire to spread.

"I know they shouldn't have put it out with water, they should have used sea foam. You shouldn't put out diesel fuel with water," she said.

Fire officials say they used up to 1,000 gallons of foam but used water when they first arrived because it takes some time to deploy the foam.

"As we set up our foam operations, which takes a little bit, we had to do something to try to contain the fire as much as we could and also do something to keep it from spreading to the interior boat at that time," said Scott Young, district chief of Tarpon Springs Fire Rescue.

Fire officials say there were two other vessels tied to the "Skye Marie."

Firefighters declared the "Skye Marie" a total loss.  Harris says the boat was not insured and he's not sure if he will be able to stay in business.

The FWC closed the river to boat traffic Tuesday night.  It reopened around 6 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Stay with WFLA.com for the latest on this developing story.

Follow us on twitter @wflatampa

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