A 4-mile stretch of a Los Angeles-area beach was closed Thursday to swimmers and surfers after tar balls washed ashore — the latest Southern California coastline to shut down due to oily goo, authorities said.
The fire department in the city of Long Beach ordered the closure Wednesday night over concerns the material could cause skin irritation or other adverse health effects in beachgoers.
"We ask that people stay off the beach and out of the water for now," agency spokesman Jake Heflin said.
Crews had scooped up about 55 gallons of the sticky substance by Thursday morning from the shoreline about 25 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, Heflin said.
The U.S. Coast Guard will test samples to try to determine the source of the tar balls.
The material did not appear to be related to the oil and gas extraction that occurs in the area, Heflin said.
Tar balls washing ashore also led to recent beach closures in nearby Manhattan Beach and further north in Ventura County.
Nothing has been ruled out, including last month's oil spill that dumped thousands of gallons of crude along the Santa Barbara County coast, about 140 miles to the northwest. Two beaches near that spill remain closed.