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Fire at the Golden Ray wreck is out, responders continue fire watch overnight

BRUNSWICK, Ga. - Response firefighting teams suppressed the fire inside the Golden Ray wreck and will maintain a fire watch throughout the night.

“Early this evening our firefighting teams successfully put out the fire inside the Golden Ray wreck,” said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Efren Lopez, federal on-scene coordinator. “ Safety is our highest priority and every member of the response displayed tremendous commitment to ensuring that emergency plans were followed during the entire fire fighting and evacuation evolution.”

Firefighting assets will remain on station throughout the night to mitigate any potential fire. All wreck removal personnel are accounted for and all non-essential personnel evacuated shortly

after the fire began, no injuries were sustained.

“Fires are an unfortunate possibility given the dangerous conditions inside the wreck,” said Incident commander Chris Graff of Gallagher Marine Systems. “Despite the extreme environmental conditions around the wreck, our personnel continue to safeguard the environment through our comprehensive monitoring and mitigation procedures on the water and at the shoreline.”

In addition to a fire watch, response on-water pollution mitigation personnel will continue their routine 24-hour watch around the wreck site closely monitoring for any potential debris or oil impacts. Safety personnel continue to conduct mobile air monitoring on the water and at sensitive areas in the community. The response environmental unit will conduct additional water sampling to measure for any impacts to water quality. Previous water sampling analyses have not detected any exceedances of water quality standards.

“Throughout the fire, our safety personnel did not detect any exceedance of air quality standards during their community monitoring using mobile air monitors,” said State on-scene coordinator John Maddox of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division.

Responders increased their fire suppression efforts after smoke began emanating from the ship during pre-cutting operations. Pre-cutting operations involve the use of 6-foot cutting torches and fire suppression systems are actively used during such operations. Wreck removal personnel were conducting pre-cutting along the cut groove for Section Three in order to direct the cutting chain away from thicker steel identified along the cut path during a routine inspection on Thursday.

“Once we are able to access the site safely, we will conduct a thorough analysis of the structural integrity of the wreck as well as all wreck removal equipment,” said Matt Cooke of T&T Salvage.

The Port of Brunswick currently remains open to vessel traffic.

The 150-yard safety zone around the EPB is increased to 200 yards for recreational vessels. The UC advises mariners to please steer clear of the perimeter to ensure the safety of our responders and the public. Any unauthorized usage of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs) around the wreck site and near response facilities is discouraged due to safety. UAVs are distractions that can lead to near misses, mishaps and injuries. Responders will report any sightings of drones and drone operators to local authorities.

Survey teams continue to assess the shoreline to find and remove any debris or other environmental impacts. To learn more about the response debris program, watch this video Subject Matter Expert Overview – Debris Removal Operations

If you encounter what you believe is debris from the Golden Ray wreck, please do not handle the debris. Call the Debris Reporting Hotline at (912) 944-5620. Responders evaluate each report, survey the vicinity and recover any shipwreck debris in addition to their daily surveys of the water and the shoreline. If you encounter residual oil on the shoreline or in the water, please call the National Response Center hotline at (800) 424-8802.

The Unified Command (UC) developed a multi-layer approach for observing, surveying, documenting and mitigating any releases of oil or debris during cutting and lifting operations. Recovery personnel are on-station at the Environmental Protection Barrier, at the shoreline and on the water around the Golden Ray shipwreck. Responders are maintaining protective boom at sensitive locations around St. Simons Sound.

The St. Simons Sound Incident Unified Command is the official source of information for the motor vessel Golden Ray response operations.

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