Cleanup continues after fire destroys 26 boats

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Coast Guard personnel remained at McCotters Marina in Washington, N.C., through the weekend to supervise the cleanup of petroleum products that leaked into Broad Creek after a fire there Friday morning.

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Officials said 26 vessels burned to the waterline, releasing diesel fuel, gasoline and lubrication fluids into the water.

As of Sunday night, 63 barrels of soiled absorbent pads and debris were recovered.

"We're making strong headway right now," Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin Ouyoumjian said in a statement. "Removing the oiled debris will also reduce the amount of sheen on the water."

Ouyoumjian also said the area enclosed by a boom has been safely reduced to just the affected docks at McCotters Marina to concentrate the cleanup operations and to minimize inconvenience to neighboring facilities.

It is not known when the cleanup will be completed. Inclement weather, including snow and sleet, could affect recovery operations, which involve working on docks and in small boats.

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According to media reports, the fire was believed to be accidental.

"Physical evidence located during the investigation and information collected during interviews indicates that the fire was caused by an electrical fault. Foul play is not suspected at this time. Environmental cleanup efforts may take several days," according to a press release from the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.

Three people were treated for burns, hypothermia and other minor injuries, according to the sheriff's office, which is investigating the fire. The 180-slip marina is on the west shore of Broad Creek near its confluence with the Pamlico River.

In addition to the 26 sunken boats, at least four others were damaged.

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