Coast Guard responds to vessel on fire

SEATTLE – The Coast Guard rescued three commercial fishermen from the fishing vessel Sunway last night approximately 10 miles off Tillamook, Ore., after the vessel caught fire due to unknown causes.

A 47-foot motor lifeboat crew from Station Tillamook Bay responded to the scene and an HH-60 helicopter crew from Air Station Astoria hoisted the three men to safety.

The fishing vessel Sunway is a 64-foot fiberglass hull fishing vessel that was engaged in the Dungeness crab fishery. The vessel is owned by Scandia Fisheries Inc. of Seattle.

At the time of the incident, the vessel was reported to have approximately 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel onboard. The Coast Guard is monitoring the site for signs of pollution. It is unclear at this time if any diesel remains after the fire.

As a precaution, scientific data projecting wind sea conditions is being provided by the scientific support staff from the National Oceanographic and Atmosphere Association.

Due to the fact that diesel is a refined oil product that quickly evaporates, along with the present wind and sea conditions, any pollution will likely disperse, posing little threat to the coastal shoreline or predetermined environmentally sensitive areas within Tillamook Bay. The Coast Guard actively monitored the vessel throughout the night and Coast Guard Sector Portland has dispatched a pollution investigation team for a first light shoreline search.

Sector Portland is investigating the accident and will interview the crew and conduct drug and alcohol testing as required by federal regulations.

This is the second serious accident that has occurred in this year’s Oregon Dungeness crab fishery. Late last week a fisherman off the fishing vessel Zora Belle was lost overboard. The investigation into this incident is ongoing.

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