SAN FRANCISCO – A fire at one of the country’s largest refineries spewed thick black smoke over cities in the San Francisco Bay area, sending scores of residents to hospitals complaining of breathing problems early Tuesday.
LIVE Feed (Full) NBCBayAreaNew:
The fire, first reported at 6:40 p.m., is burning in a process unit at the refinery, officials said. It is sending smoke over the cities of Richmond and San Pablo.
Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo, a town near the Chevron refinery in Richmond, said about 200 people had sought help and more patients were arriving. Kaiser’s Richmond Medical Center also said several dozen people came to the emergency room complaining of shortness of breath, but none was seriously ill.
Residents said they heard loud blasts around 6:15 p.m., when the fire broke out, although Chevron officials could not confirm those reports.
The blaze at the plant in Richmond, about 10 miles northeast of San Francisco, was contained by late Monday although it was not immediately known when the flames would be extinguished, said company spokeswoman Heather Kulp.
The refinery is the largest producer of base oils on the West Coast, processing up to 240,000 barrels of crude oil a day, according to the company’s website.