February 1 - 1977: Coast Guard "firebombs" oil spill in Buzzards Bay

1994: Nancy Kerrigan's attacker identified
The oil was from a Bouchard barge trapped in thick ice near Cleveland Ledge Lighthouse in Buzzards Bay. USCG photo.

1977: The day they firebombed Buzzards Bay

Bouchard barge trapped in ice, spills 100,000 gallons of home heating oil

On this day in 1977, as reported by the Associated Press:

"Thick, black smoke billowed off the Cape Cod coast for several hours after the Coast Guard firebombed just a small fraction of the 100,000 gallons of home heating oil that spilled here."

The oil had spilled three days earlier from a Bouchard barge trapped in thick ice near Cleveland Ledge Lighthouse in Buzzards Bay. The accident was one of several involving oil spills off the Cape and islands in the bitterly cold winter of 1976-1977, including the loss of 7.6 million gallons of oil from the tanker Argo Merchant on Nantucket Shoals a month earlier.

Cleanup efforts after the Bouchard spill in January were hampered by ice floes covering much of the bay. In a seldom-seen strategy, Coast Guard officials decided to try and burn the oil before it hit beaches on the Cape and South Coast.

"A Coast Guard seaplane dropped ten boxes of flammable material and grenades over the largest slick while area residents watched safely from shore," the AP reported. "Suddenly a puff of white smoke shot straight up from the ice. The smoke quickly grew and fanned out, turning from dark gray and into a large mushroom cloud ... Flames leapt 30 feet in the air."

The oil had pooled in three large slicks, one within walking distance over ice from Wings Neck. The barge was hauling 3.1 million gallons of oil from Providence to Portland and its remaining cargo was pumped to another barge. Much of the oil that leaked from the barge was also vacuumed from shore.

Coast Guard officials decided against burning off more oil after their initial effort consumed only a small amount of the spilled fuel.

Bouchard vessels passing through Buzzards Bay have been involved in numerous spills over the years, including the most recent, in April 2003, when an estimated 98,000 gallons were lost after a barge scraped an underwater ledge.

1994: Nancy Kerrigan's attacker identified

Lawyer for Tonya Harding's Ex-Husband Says He Has Tied Her to Attack

On this day in 1994 Jeff Gillooly, the former husband of Tonya Harding, told investigators that Miss Harding helped plan the assault on her figure-skating rival, Nancy Kerrigan, Mr. Gillooly's lawyer said today.

Ronald H. Hoevet, the lawyer, said Mr. Gillooly told Federal investigators last week that Miss Harding had given final approval for the Jan. 6 attack in Detroit, where Miss Kerrigan was struck above the right knee and kept from competing in the national championships. The lawyer said Mr. Gillooly's account was fully detailed, and included many points that could be corroborated by phone logs and bank records...

Mr. Gillooly identified a Pennsylvania woman well-connected in figure-skating circles who Miss Harding called to ask for help in learning Miss Kerrigan's home address in Stoneham, Mass., and details of her training schedule at her practice rink on Cape Cod...


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