Fishing vessel burns, sinks off Whidbey Island

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WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. (AP) -- State officials have suspended mussel harvesting in Whidbey Island's Penn Cove until further notice after a 128-foot derelict fishing vessel anchored there burst into flames and sank over the weekend.

Ecology's Richard Walker tells KOMO-TV (http://bit.ly/JMn9yP ) that mussel farm operations were suspended as a precaution while investigators determine if contamination reached the water or mussel pens.

The blaze broke out late Saturday aboard the Deep Sea vessel. The vessel sank about 6 p.m. Sunday as the Coast Guard prepared to inspect it.

Coast Guard spokesman Nathan Bradshaw says crews had wanted to board the vessel to make sure The Deep Sea was structurally sound before towing it.

An environmental contractor has been hired to clean up and place a boom around the ship.

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Information from: KOMO-TV, http://www.komotv.com/