White smoke began emanating Sunday morning from the shipwrecked freighter Golden Ray in the St. Simons Sound, according to the Unified Command that is in charge of salvaging the 656-foot vessel.

Unified Command became aware of the smoke around 8 a.m., said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Michael Himes, a spokesman for the Unified Command. Crews in a tugboat with firefighting capabilities began spraying down the overturned ship. But by 2 p.m., Himes said smoke was no longer visible from inside the ship but that crews continued to monitor the vessel.

No crew members of the salvage team were inside the vessel at the time it started smoking, he said. The Unified Command, which consists of the Coast Guard, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Gallagher Marine Systems, has not confirmed the source of the smoke.

“The source of the smoke is inside the ship, and it’s difficult to confirm where it is coming from,” Himes said. “Our tug with firefighting capability is going to remain on scene through the night, spraying water. In the morning we will make a clearer assessment of where we stand.”

The freighter Golden Ray overturned on its port side Sept. 8 as it was heading out to sea from the Port of Brunswick with a cargo of 4,200 vehicles. Salvaging crews have removed 250,000 gallons of the 300,000 gallons of fuel in the ship’s tanks. Unified Command has determined that the Golden Ray will have to be disassembled where it lies, in the sound between St. Simons and Jekyll islands.

Anyone who spots oil or other pollutants on local waters and shorelines is asked to call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802. Folks who spot oiled wildlife are urged to call 1-800-261-0980.

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