Fire Roaring at Chevron Refinery in Richmond (Update)
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Update (9:45 p.m.): BART officials say all stations have been reopened except for Richmond.
Update (9:35 p.m.): News outlets are reporting that tons of people are flooding emergency rooms complaining of breathing problems.
Update (9:17 p.m.): Chevron officials just held a short news conference, saying it appears to have been a diesel fuel leak that started the fire. The diesel came in contact with some kind of metal, which ignited the fuel. The fire is still burning strong, and officials have no idea how long this flames will rage. However, Chevron officials apologized to the community and said they are working as fast as they can to put a cap on this toxic blaze. Needless to say, it could be a very long night.
Update 9:10 p.m.: The fire is still going,
Update (9 p.m.): Good news is that all Chevron employees have been accounted for. Sirens will sound every half-hour until the smoke is clear -- literally. So as long as you hear that siren, stay inside and hug your pets. That applies to all of Richmond, San Pablo, and now El Cerrito.
Update (8:50 p.m.): Oakland police are now warning North Oakland residents to stay inside as the toxic plume of smoke is headed that way. Also, Chevron released the following statement: "We are responding to this incident as quickly as we can and are deploying highly trained personnel to assess and manage the situation. We will not speculate on the cause of this incident. Our priority right now is containing the fire and protecting the health and safety of our employees and community. We will provide updates as more information can be confirmed."
Update (8:30 p.m.): BART has closed the Richmond station, and officials have issued a level 3 health warning, which means the fire can cause eye, nose, skin, and respiratory irritation, according to new reports. KTVU reports that refinery officials said the fire may have been caused by a pump leak on the crude unit column in the processing plant, although nothing has been confirmed yet.
Original story (6:39 p.m.) Massive plumes of black smoke and flames visible even from across the bay are rising from a Richmond-area refinery.
Richmond Police confirmed the fire is at the Chevron refinery in that city, and have issued a shelter-in-place order due to the potential of hazardous chemicals now airborne. Contra Costa Health Services urges area residents to seal cracks around doors and windows with tape or damp towels.
Police were, at this time, unable to speak about the cause of the fire or confirm if it has led to any casualties. Radio reports indicate no casualties at this time.
See below a series of photos sent from a reader on site in Point Richmond:
Read more on how the fire might affect gas prices.