Fire Destroys 2 Storage Tanks at Oil Facility in Crockett

Blaze prompted a shelter in place for Crockett and Rodeo and shut down Interstate 80 in the area for about 6 hours

Two chemical storage tanks caught fire and three others were threatened at an energy storage facility in Contra Costa County Tuesday afternoon, according to fire officials.

The blaze burned the two tanks to the ground and damaged two others at the NuStar Energy facility in Crockett, according to the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, which got the first call at about 1:50 p.m.

No injuries were reported.

People in Crockett and Rodeo were asked to shelter in place. They were encouraged to stay inside and keep their windows and doors closed. The shelter in place was lifted at about 9:30 p.m.

Both directions of Interstate 80 were shut down between Highway 4 and the Carquinez Bridge for more than 6 hours. The freeway reopened at about 9:20 p.m. Tuesday.  

The tanks were partially filled with ethanol, and fire crews used foam to fight the flames and water to cool the adjacent tanks that weren't burning, according to ConFire and NuStar officials.

The fire sent a thick plume of black smoke into the air that could be seen for miles. It also spread to nearby brush, according to Cal Fire. About 5 acres of brush burned near the facility and was contained quickly.

The fire at the facility was fully contained by about 9 p.m., ConFire said.

Smoke from the blaze could impact multiple communities east of Rodeo, along the Carquinez Strait, including but not limited to Benicia, Martinez, Baypoint, Pittsburg and areas to the east, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

Fire officials confirmed reports there were multiple explosions before the fire. The cause of the blaze was not immediately known.

Contra Costa College canceled all Tuesday evening classes because of the fire and the related traffic issues.

NuStar Energy LP, a publicly traded company based in San Antonio, released the following statement about the fire later Tuesday:

"NuStar is working with first responders to extinguish a fire at its Selby Terminal in Crockett, CA. There are two impacted tanks, which were holding very low volumes of ethanol – less than 1% of tank capacity. All personnel are safe and accounted for.

"NuStar immediately enacted its emergency response procedures. Adjacent tanks are being cooled to minimize the risk of the fire spreading. We have contacted all regulatory agencies."

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