Published On: Tue, Aug 7th, 2012

Chevron refinery erupts into massive fire, thousands told to stay inside homes

A huge fire broke out at the Chevron oil refinery in Richmond, California on Monday night forcing mroe than 160,000 residents to stay indoors to protect themselves from the hazardous smoke. 

Richmond Chevron Refinery fire smoke cloud over Berkley and San Francisco photo/Ashstar01

The fire, which authorities said was still blazing more than two and a half hours after it erupted, hit the sole crude unit at the 245,000 barrel per day (bpd) plant, which accounts for one-eighth of the state’s refining capacity.

At least two large blazes erupted at the refinery sending thick plumes of black smoke into the air over the San Francisco Bay-area plant.

Fire crews are fighting to contain the blaze, which can be seen for miles across the city. There have been no fatalities, one of the refinery workers was injured with non life-threatening burns. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

About five minutes after the explosions, sirens tore through the air, alerting residents to stay indoors to prevent breathing tainted air. Some people got in their cars and drove away from the smoke that spread throughout the neighborhoods east of the refinery.

The shelter-in-place order for the communities of Richmond, North Richmond and San Pablo was lifted around 11:15 p.m., reported Mercury News.

Contra Costa County Hazardous Materials Program Director Randy Sawyer said that small amounts of material were still burning on the site, but that smoke was not leaving the refinery property.

Residents can open their windows and doors to allow their homes to air out, Sawyer said.

Officials are still working to determine the cause of the fire, but said the blaze was in their “No. 4 Crude Unit,” which processes diesel crude oil.

Chevron spokeswoman Heather Kulp said crews were investigating a leak in the unit before the fire. Crews realized the leak could not immediately be contained, so moved workers out of the area, and the fire erupted shortly thereafter, she said.

Cloud of smoke from the Chevron refinery fire photo/Luciferwildcat


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- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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  1. Sun says:

    Not only was this not on any news networks, but CNN has decided a “toddlers and tiaras” interview is far more relevant.

    It didn’t even showing up on their website for hours.
    Total blackout.

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