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Bellingham beach closed until Monday after fishing boat wreck

Crews clean up wreckage of fishing boat Bergen after windstorm

Crews from Global Diving and Salvage work to clean up wreckage of fishing boat Bergen after March 10 windstorm destroyed it against a rocky shore near Little Squalicum Beach on Friday, March 11, in Bellingham, Wash.
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Crews from Global Diving and Salvage work to clean up wreckage of fishing boat Bergen after March 10 windstorm destroyed it against a rocky shore near Little Squalicum Beach on Friday, March 11, in Bellingham, Wash.

Little Squalicum Beach will remain closed at least through Monday, March 14, as crews work to dismantle and then pull out of the water a fishing boat wrecked during a fierce windstorm.

Three fishermen were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard early Thursday when their commercial fishing boat, the Bergen, broke free from its moorage in a windstorm with gusts of 70 mph.

The 52-foot wooden boat hit a seawall south of Seaview Avenue, after drifting about 300 yards to the west.

The boat, which was based in Gig Harbor, had been moored near Bellingham Cold Storage, 2825 Roeder Ave., as the crew prepared for a three-month trip to Bristol Bay to fish for black cod.

Global Diving and Salvage has been contracted to remove the boat.

An oil boom was in place to help contain the damage from an estimated 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel on board, said Krista Kenner, spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Ecology.

A sheen from the fuel surrounded the boat Friday morning, but it’s not yet known how much of the fuel spilled into the water.

What’s called absorbent sweep also was put into the water to help soak up the sheen, and what isn’t soaked up will evaporate or break down over time, Kenner said.

They’re taking this boat out of the water in pieces.

Krista Kenner, spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Ecology

Getting the boat out of the water has been challenging because it’s heavy and it’s heavily damaged.

Divers were in the water in Bellingham Bay on Friday to try to get to the fuel tanks and to remove pieces of the Bergen.

“They’ve been trying to raise the boat up out of the water,” Kenner said. “It’s taking quite a long time, just the sheer weight of it all, it’s really heavy. They’re taking this boat out of the water in pieces.”

Crews hope to be able to grab the bulk of the boat with a crane at some point and pull it out of the water.

When that might be wasn’t known Friday.

Another storm blowing in over the weekend could hamper those efforts.

The National Weather Service has issued a high wind watch for Sunday afternoon through evening. Southeast to south winds of 20 to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph are possible.

Crews would stop their work and return when it’s calm.

The Port of Bellingham, which has jurisdiction over Little Squalicum Beach, will decide Monday whether to keep it closed.

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea

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