Updates at 12:30 a.m. Friday are in italics.
A foul odor descended on Belmont Shore and East Long Beach Thursday afternoon through evening, prompting more than 300 callers to flood Long Beach Fire Department or 9-1-1 dispatch.
The good news is that it reportedly is not natural gas. The bad news is that officials don't seem to know what it is.
That came from a Long Beach Fire Department dispatcher who would only identify herself as operator 154, though she was happy to offer updates.
"It is not natural gas. That is coming from the Long Beach Gas Dept.," the operator said at about 6:45 p.m.
The Air Quality Management District, or AQMD, later Thursday night said that five investigators were responding to the reports and would probe the origin and nature of the sulfur-like smell, the Press Telegram reported at 8 p.m.
Long Beach Fire Department spokesman Will Nash told the P.T. that a "'vapor cloud' apparently emanating from one of the oil islands moved in the northeast direction from Belmont Pier."
The Long Beach Gas and Oil Department responded and determined that the smell was not natural gas or caused by a gas leak, Nash said.
As many residents shared with Patch, the sulfur smell is a recurring one, which they've reported periodically with no definitive answers by city or utilities.
The calls began at about 4 p.m. The noxious gas-like smell is "an offshore odor," the operator said. But the source beyond that was not yet known.
"It could be a refinery, a burn-off maybe from an oil island," the dispatcher said.
"People are getting home and smelling gas and being afraid to stay in," she said of the pent up odor trapped in dwellings." The scent is "mainly stayed down in the Belmont Shore area, a little north."
The advice being given to the more than 300 callers in three hours?
Open all your windows to air out your house and let the smell dissipate.
Check back for any further updates here at Patch, where the newsroom shares in your (nose) pain.