TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. -
U.S. Coast Guard crews in Tarpon Springs spent much of Wednesday cleaning a diesel spill after a shrimp boat caught fire. "The sun is our greatest ally right now. It's actually burning it off for us," said Petty Officer Eric Garza.
The boat fire sparked Tuesday night, and investigators said they are still looking into the cause.
The boat is owned by Sue Harris, 73, and her husband. The couple was not aboard the boat at the time of the fire. "It's hard seeing your livelihood burn up," said Harris. She added the uninsured, wooden boat was purchased seven years ago for about $150,000.
Tarpon Springs Fire Rescue District Chief Scott Young said the boat had recently been topped off with thousands of gallons of diesel fuel, some of which spilled into the Anclote River, sparking a series of smaller fires atop the waters at the time of the blaze. "Something most of us have never seen in our career," he said.
Coast Guard crews are soaking up the diesel using matts and a skimmer. They could not provide a timeframe on completion of the clean-up but assure the spilled diesel is contained and described impacts as "minimal."
Garza said final salvage operations and removal of the charred boat will be the owners' responsibility.
Waterways in Tarpon Springs, as well as the beloved sponge merchants, are open for business.