A Washington Department of Ecology official believes there was fuel on a barge that caught fire Tuesday and sent a giant plume of smoke into the sky over Seattle.
“We’re assessing possible impacts, and depending on what we see, we can start determining if further follow up is needed," said Department of Ecology spokesperson Larry Altose.
Crews inspected the area for the release of oil Wednesday, according to Altose. A spill response team from Seattle Public Utilities deployed 45 minutes after the fire call came in, and was able to place a containment boom around the area.
"No recoverable oil, no oil inside the containment boom ... looks like everything is working the way it's supposed to," said Eric Autry, SPU's lead spill responder.
Autry led the inspection team checking for environmental impacts by boat. They patrolled inlets of the river looking for oil and struggling wildlife.
"From land you can't see everything," said Autry. "So being able to move around like the oil moves around we can find it if it's on the water."
No areas of concern came up on the search, and Autry said it looks like the majority of the firefighting foam has already dissolved. A small amount remained visible on the rocks near the barge.
Autry said the SPU response team handles about 1200 spills a year.
"There are spills every day," he said.
Chris Wilke, of the environmental group Puget Soundkeeper, said he's concerned by the foam entering the waterway, and worries over long-term impacts. He also expressed health concerns about the amount of smoke.
The Dept. of Ecology said the dissolved foam is not anticipated to cause environmental impacts, because the Duwamish is a large body of water with plenty of volume to diffuse the material.
The Seattle Fire Department responded to 600 S. Myrtle St. around 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday Thick smoke was fueled by scrap metal and rubber stored nearby. Approximately three stories of scrapped cars were piled next to the barge.
Firefighters originally attacked the fire from land but were soon assisted by a fireboat on the Duwamish River.
One firefighter had minor injuries.
Seattle Fire Department investigators said Wednesday that the fire was sparked accidently, and that it caused $1 million in damage.
"We’re continuing to monitor the situation and to coordinate with other response agencies as we gather and share information about impacts to the river," said Altose.
the blaze threw a huge plume of smoke into the sky. Viewers shared footage across the area: