Smoke coming from capsized Golden Ray cargo ship

Coast Guard reports smoke, air crews flying over looking for fire

ST. SIMONS, Ga. – The U.S. Coast Guard responded Sunday when white smoke was seen Sunday morning coming from the Golden Ray, the 656-foot vehicle transport vessel that has been lying on its side in the St. Simons Sound for seven weeks.

Unified Command, a collection of agencies and companies involved in salvaging the cargo ship, told News4Jax that air crews flew over the ship looking for fire. Water was sprayed on the backside of the ship and the incident was cleared shortly after 11:30 a.m.

"We don't really know [where the fire started]," Sue Inman, Altamaha Riverkeeper, said. "All we know is that it takes two things to start a fire: One, something to cause the spark, and also a contaminant that can catch on fire."

Inman told News4Jax salvage efforts were suspended Saturday as Tropical Storm Nestor made its way through Florida and Georgia. 

Although more than 250,000 gallons of fuel have been removed from the Golden Ray so far, Inman said there's still a concern about other pollutants.

"There's still a lot left, and that includes everything from all the vehicles that are still inside," Inman explained. 

The ship is being disassembled in place after maritime experts have determined it is not possible to safely right and refloat the vessel in a fully intact condition.

The Unified Command says this is a long, complex process that will take time. At this time, an exact timeline on when the Golden Ray will be disassembled hasn't been given. 

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