OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Diesel fuel spilling through Oakland’s Lake Merritt storm drains has covered acres of the lake Tuesday afternoon, a fire battalion chief said.

The origin of the diesel fuel is unclear, but a hazardous material team and marine response unit worked with fire crews to contain about half of the spill in the northwest area of the lake as of 3 p.m., Battalion Chief Darin White said.

The spill covered about 4 to 5 acres, but White was unable to estimate the amount of fuel in the lake.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

A portion of the lake has been cordoned off from pedestrians while personnel with Oakland Public Works, the Department of Fish and Game and other local agencies investigate the cause of the spill, White said.

As to animals living in or around the lake, White said one bird he saw on the water “figured out pretty quickly” that the lake was not a good area to swim Tuesday afternoon and joined other birds and geese on the grassy hillsides surrounding the lake.

He said that after clean up efforts the waters should return to normal, but could not estimate when that would be.

The unusually rainy weather may have been a factor leading to the excess fuel in the lake, he added.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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