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New Fire Today at Chevron – Smaller and Quickly Doused

A new fire broke out at the Chevron refinery today, Wednesday, sparked by the remnant of the original large Monday night blaze, but both fires were quickly extinguished with no new danger to community health, Chevron said.

Updated, 9 p.m.

A new, small fire erupted at the Chevron refinery this morning, Wednesday, sparked by the still-burning remnant of the large blaze that burned Monday night, and was soon extinguished by refinery firefighters with no injuries, Chevron said.

The refinery was able to completely extinguish both the old and new fires at the same time, said Mark Ayers, chief of emergency services at the refinery.

The new fire erupted about 10:45 a.m. when the "basketball-sized" remnant of the original fire leapt up and ignited a new leak that occurred this morning, Ayers said.

It was extinguished within three minutes, said Heather Kulp, a Chevron spokeswoman. No emergency notifications were issued to the community because the fire was so quickly put out and posed no danger to public health or safety.

"There was no impact on community health," she said.

"At this time, the fire is completely out," Ayers said, referring to the remnant of the large blaze that broke out in the number 4 crude unit Monday evening.

The Richmond fire department responded to the scene this morning to staff the refinery fire station while refinery firefighters attended to the new fire, a standard protocol, Chevron said.

The Monday night fire, in the number 4 crude unit, spewed a huge plume into the sky visible for many miles, prompted shelter-in-place warnings, caused hundreds of residents to seek treatment at local hospitals and curtailed BART service.

Claims calls pouring in

Chevron said it has received hundreds of calls on its newly established claims line for residents who incurred medical, property or other expenses because of the fire.

At the 4 p.m. news conference, Kulp said the number was over 1,000 and still growing. 

The refinery announced Tuesday afternoon that it had established the claims line, at 866-260-7881, and is working with Crawford and Company to process them.

Kulp apologized to those who have received a busy signal and encouraged them to try the number again. The number is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The refinery is also working to set up an office at an address yet to be determined where residents can file claims, she said. 

The refinery is accepting claims for any kind of expenses incurred by the fire, including medical treatment, property damage, lost business and lost pay from missed work, Kulp said.

Hospital visits increasing

The number of people going to the Kaiser Pemanente Medical Center in Richmond and Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo continued to grow today, with the total swelling above 1,700 as of this afternoon, according Contra Costa County Director of Public Health Wendel Brunner.

As of 5 p.m. yesterday, the total was 949, Brunner said at an attended by more than 500 mostly angry residents in Richmond Tuesday night.

By noon today, the number going to Kaiser alone seeking treatment for fire-related complaints had reached about 900, the hospital said. A visit to Kaiser by Patch around 3:30 p.m. found staff members at a table in the main lobby busily registering more people seeking treatment for fire-related complaints.

Doctors hospital reported more than 600 fire-related visits as of 7 a.m. today.

Health impact information from county officials

Meanwhile Contra Costa Health Services has posted an update on the fire with lab test results of air samples and a list of questions and answers about health impacts.

The tests showed that "the level of benzene and other toxic chemicals was below harmful levels during the fire and poses no risk of cancer," Health Services said.

The department also said eating vegetables and fruit from local gardens is fine, adding that it's always a good idea to wash them first. Those living in areas affected by the fire may want to wash vegetables and fruit with soap and a mild detergent like dish-washing soap. Drinking tap water also is okay, according to Health Services.

Probe of cause, reduced capacity at plant

Chevron officials said the cause of the Monday blaze is still under investigation, and that they are cooperating with various agencies in the probe.

The damaged crude unit remains shut down with no estimated restart date, Kulp said.

Other parts of the refinery continue to operate, though the facility's production capacity for producing transportation fuels has been reduced, Chevron said.

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See more of Patch's Chevron fire coverage:

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samuel buman August 08, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Surprise, surprise. Wow another fire.
Bud Burlison August 09, 2012 at 02:35 AM
These refineries are controlled explosions. I would imagine the small fire that "broke out" was associated with the large rectangular structure called a cooling tower. I saw by the aerial shot that the fin-fans sufferred significant damage. I doubt the next fire was in the origianal pipe alley

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