Saturday, June 23, 2018
Public safety

Diesel fuel cleanup continues in Anclote River; no cause yet for boat fire

TARPON SPRINGS — Cleanup of the diesel fuel spill on the Anclote River continued throughout Thursday as the U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies rolled drum skimmers over the water to collect more than 4,500 gallons of diesel-contaminated water.

A large boat fire Tuesday caused fuel to gush into the river at the city's historic Sponge Docks.

No effects on wildlife had been reported by Thursday afternoon, according to a news release from the Coast Guard. About 500 feet of floating boom had been placed around the gutted boat, the Skye Marie, to prevent the spread of pollution, the release states.

Efforts to clean up are expected to continue Friday.

"The crews will all be out there until the job is done," said Coast Guard spokesman Michael De Nyse. "We're working hand in hand with our partner agencies to make sure this is done not only correctly but safely."

The 85-foot shrimp boat Skye Marie was anchored at the Chevron fuel depot at the Sponge Docks Tuesday when flames began shooting out of the boat's cabin.

The boat had been filled with 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel, for a total of 6,000 gallons onboard. It took firefighters hours to put out the stubborn blaze, which also spread across the water and ignited a dock on the north bank.

The diesel in the river gave the water a glassy sheen. And, as it evaporated, it made the Sponge Docks area smell like a gas station.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is being handled by multiple agencies and is still open, said Tarpon Springs Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Don Sayre.

Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, the Coast Guard, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the state Department of Environmental Protection, Homeland Security and local law enforcement were involved in the firefight and its aftermath.

Skye Marie owner Billy Harris of Port Richey said the boat was not insured and apologized for the harm caused by the fire.

Brittany Alana Davis can be reached at [email protected] or 850-323-0353.

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