BANDON — A 64-foot wood and fiberglass fishing vessel, the Ann Kathleen out of Westport, Wash., caught fire while at sea Thursday off the coast south of Bandon.
The crew abandoned the vessel and were eventually rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. No injuries were reported. The boat came aground in a remote area of beach north of Floras Lake at low tide late Thursday, according to a press release from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, which has jurisdiction over the entire Oregon coast from the high tide mark.
Bandon Fire Chief Lanny Boston said his department received a dispatch call for the fire late Thursday morning. The Coast Guard, Bandon Fire Department, Coos Bay Fire Department, Coos Forest Protection Agency, Bureau of Land Management and Oregon State Parks officials responded, including some from Bullards Beach State Park.
Boston said the boat, which launched out of Charleston, was carrying around 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel, which kept burning even after it was grounding on the beach. Another vessel helped the four people off the boat until the Coast Guard arrived, Boston said. Since the vessel wasn't towed, it eventually ran aground near Floras Lake and the New River area in Coos County.
"It burned all night," Boston said.
Debris from the boat, which is no longer actively burning, is resting on the beach as of Friday morning. A team from the U.S. Coast Guard, local fire department and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality will evaluate the site for toxic materials and develop any necessary response plan to protect the beach and nearby shorebird nesting area, according to OPRD. The area is designated for recovery of the western snowy plover.
State and federal officials are in contact with the ship owner and insurer. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department will take lead on managing nontoxic debris on the beach. Questions about the offshore portion of the incident will be addressed by the U.S. Coast Guard.
While remote, beach hikers are advised to steer clear of the debris area. Pedestrians must stay on the wet sand within the plover nesting area.