small flames out, the fire department was called in, said Lt. Mitch White
of the Newport Beach Lifeguard Marine Safety division..
The fire was extinguished by using buckets of water, Newport Beach
fire Capt. Ron Gamble said. Officials said the fire was caused by
phosphorus that leaked from a marker found either Thursday or Friday.
"When the lifeguards found the fire, [the phosphorus] was probably the
size of half of someone's fist," Gamble said. "When we got there, it was
just a few tablespoons."
Gamble said that phosphorus bubbles when it comes into contact with
water, and when it comes in contact with air, it sparks.
"Over time, it would have fizzled away," Gamble said, "but it's good
that no one breathed it in or stepped in it."
The first of the Navy markers, which are used in training exercises
off the coast, was found Thursday by a city maintenance worker who took
it to the fire department, Gamble said. The fire department called the
Orange County Sheriff's Bomb Squad to take it away.
The second marker was found at about 10 a.m. Friday and the third at
around 5:30 p.m. Friday, both by Newport Beach lifeguards. The latter two
were taken away by Newport Beach police, who notified the Orange County
Sheriffs Department Bomb Squad, officials said.
On the markers, which are about two feet long and cylinder-shaped, the
words "U.S. Navy Marker Location Marine MK58 MOD1" are printed as well as
"Contains phosphorus. May cause serious burns. Notify police or military
if found," Newport Beach Police Sgt. Fred Heinecke said.
"When we received the first one, we called the [Seal Beach] Naval
Weapons Station," Gamble said. "They told us that after their training,
they try to collect them all, but sometimes they can't find them all.
Somehow, some get away."