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Mysterious offshore odor stirs concern among some Newport-Mesa residents

An incident originating from offshore reportedly caused a strong odor to permeate throughout the Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach region, officials said Thursday.

A Newport Fire Department spokeswoman said officials do not believe it came from an onshore natural gas line, but rather "most likely some kind of drilling apparatus, I believe."

Newport police issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying the odor did not pose a public safety threat. The smell reportedly had dissipated by 6:30 p.m.

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Strange smells coming off the Pacific have happened before, Costa Mesa Fire Department Capt. Chris Coates said.

Coates said Southern California Gas Co. and the South Coast Air Quality Management District were notified of the situation and investigated.

A SoCal Gas spokesman said the utility was notified by Newport police that the smell was coming from offshore.

Occasionally, odors of unknown origin get trapped in the marine layer, Coates said, which then carries it several miles inland "where it drops down and that's when people start smelling it."

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"It could just be one of those things that happens occasionally, and we've dealt with it in the past," he added. "Normally it's not this strong or lasts this long."

Many Newport-Mesa residents took to social media to air their concerns, with reports of strange smells coming from West Newport clear north to South Coast Metro.

Costa Mesa resident Tom Carroll said he first sensed something was wrong about 3:30 p.m. when he was at an apartment near Monrovia Avenue and West 19th Street. At first he thought it was propane, so he checked the barbecue.

When got home to his Lower Birds house a few hours later, the smell persisted. Carroll immediately thought of the health and safety of his newborn niece and what happened up north in Porter Ranch.

"This is my first niece," he said. "I can't help but think of everything that happened in Porter Ranch, all those people getting headaches, nosebleeds."

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Luke Money, lucas.money@latimes.com

Twitter: @LukeMMoney

Bradley Zint, bradley.zint@latimes.com

Twitter: @BradleyZint

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