Long Beach is the latest California coastal area to close down its beaches because of a surge of tar balls on its shoreline.

The city's Fire Department ordered the closure of about four miles of beaches shortly before 8 p.m. PDT Wednesday because of fears that the tar balls could cause skin irritation or other adverse health effects for beach-goers.

The Long Beach Press-Telegram (http://bit.ly/1IeYuiZ ) reports that the tar balls do not appear to be related to the oil and gas extraction that occurs in the area.

Officials are working to find out whether they are from the major oil spill some 140 miles to the northeast in Santa Barbara County.

Similar surges of tar balls have led to beach closures in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

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Information from: The San Diego Union-Tribune, http://www.utsandiego.com