Click on pictures to enlarge
A Salem man drove to Newport this morning in his red El Camino to go on a charter fishing trip. About half-way into his excursion, his vehicle, which he had parked on a hill behind Harry’s Bait and Tackle, started leaking gas. Although the cap was on, it apparently couldn’t keep back the pressure of the gas against it, and it started leaking.
Passersby smelled the gas and called 9-1-1. Newport Police arrived on scene and immediately called for clean-up assistance and a fast tow to get the vehicle off the hill.
While Newport Firefighters and an ODOT Emergency Responder dusted the hillside and put absorbing snakes around the storm drain, other first responders kept tourists away from the gasoline. Sharp-eyed police Sgt. Tom Simpson spotted someone who was obviously connected with the incident running toward the scene with a cigarette in her mouth. Simpson announced loudly, “Here comes one! Stop her!”
The woman froze in her tracks and then explained that the car belonged to a man out on a fishing trip and that he would be back at 2:30. “Could they not tow it?,” she asked.
Sgt. Simpson shook his head and said he couldn’t leave such a highly volatile incident to linger any longer than necessary – “Too dangerous,” he said. Simpson suggested that the charter boat company (which the woman worked for) inform the El Camino’s owner where he can pick up his vehicle; at Rowley’s storage yard in South Beach.
The Coast Guard says small to moderate amounts of gasoline that finds its way to the bay usually stays afloat on the surface and evaporates very quickly. Coast Guard Yaquina Bay came over to check out the storm drain outfall and saw no sheen on the water nor any sign of a recoverable amount of gas. They say it’s quite likely that the gas will evaporate away rather quickly since it is exposed to open waters and whatever wind activity there is along the Bayfront.