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Semi stuck on the beach recalls New Carissa

I saw something on Facebook about a semi truck stranded in the surf on the Oregon Coast. It was apparently rescued, but people were talking about it could have turned into the next New Carissa. What does that mean?

— Greyson, email submission

Well, Greyson, you hit on two of the more bizarre Oregon beach strandings in recent years, but neither are new by any means.

The semi-truck your Facebook buddies refer to happened last October when a guy backed his semi and trailer down to the beach near Warrenton to take a picture of the surf. But the incoming tide overtook him, and a local group of 4x4 aficionados were able to tow him to safety before things got too bad for the truck, the driver and the Pacific.

In that case, no fuel or oil were leaked into the ocean, officials said.

But it did cause some to remember the fiasco of the New Carissa which ran aground near Coos Bay more than two decades ago.

The New Carissa was a 640-foot-long freighter bound for Coos Bay to pick up a load of wood chips Feb. 4, 1999, when it dropped anchor just north of the port to wait out a rough night.

But just one anchor was dropped, and the boat dragged that anchor toward shore without anyone noticing until it was too late. The freighter ran aground on Bastendorff Beach and broke in half a week later, leaking more than 70,000 gallons of fuel oil and diesel. The spill killed more than 1,300 seabirds, including rare marbled murrelets and snowy plovers, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The bow of the ship was eventually towed out to sea and sunk, but the stern remained on the beach. The fuel on the stern was burned off, and the rusty metal was left stuck in the sand, drawing rubberneckers and others for nine years.

The state of Oregon ponied up $16.4 million to get the final pieces cut up and hauled off the beach in 2008.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.