PORT ARANSAS (KIII NEWS) - One crew member was killed and one is still missing after a fire broke out on a transport barge being pulled by a tug around 4:30 a.m. Friday about three miles off the jetties of Port Aransas, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
More than 140,000 barrels of crude were on the barge at the time, along with eight crew members. As of 11:30 a.m. Friday, firefighters from the Corpus Christi Fire Department were still fighting the blaze by boat.
Coast Guard officials said they received a mayday from the captain of the tug vessel Buster Brouchard around 4:35 a.m. saying that the vessel they were tugging, barge B255, was on fire and two crew members had gone missing.
Coast Guard officials said they have a fixed-wing plane flying search patterns over the area, as well as several boats and a helicopter, looking for the missing crew member.
A 1,000-foot protective zone has been established around the site of the blaze.
Rick Adams, emergency management coordinator for the City of Port Aransas, said ship channel has been closed and an oil boom is being brought out as a precaution because of a light but noticeable oil sheen on the water's surface.
The TCEQ is also in the area monitoring air quality. At this time, officials say there are no risks to the public.
Friday morning, residents in the area told 3News they felt their homes rattle a bit during the early morning hours, and flames were still visible until shortly after 9 a.m. when crews extinguished the fire.
3News will keep you updated as more information becomes available.
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