SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A small fuel leak was reported at East Beach in Santa Barbara during a salvage operation for a storm damaged boat.
Brent Aston with Big B's Boat Disposal says the vessel was in bad shape when he arrived with a crew and heavy equipment.
The "Walkabout" sailboat was partially under the sand, and some of it was cracked open, making it difficult for the crew to break it up and haul it out. Some of the work was done with hand tools. Workers were also up to their knees in water to pick up loose debris. A small sand berm was built to confine the working area from the afternoon surf.
Harbor Operations Manager Mick Kronman says the salvage crew has a clean track record and has been called in by boat owners to handle other jobs.
Aston says he is on a city list when beached boats need to be hauled out or demolished.
Some nearby volleyball players were concerned about the diesel fuel smell and notified the Santa Barbara City Fire Department. Engine 2 assessed the situation and did not seen a spill, or anything that needed an absorbent, but did notify the Coast Guard which sent out two representatives.
No environmental offenses were detected and the salvage operation continued.
Aston said he hoped to have two boats removed from the sand by sundown, and planned to make sure all debris was picked up and the beach was groomed before they left the area.
MORE details and video will be posted later today.Slideshow: Fuel Smell Brings Out Fire, Coast Guard During Boat Salvage