(Bloomberg) — An explosion and fire at a San Francisco-area fuel terminal spewed black smoke high in the air, snarling rush hour traffic and prompting local officials to ask residents to take shelter on Tuesday, before the emergency situation eased early on Wednesday.
The fire that affected two tanks at Nustar Energy LP’s Selby Terminal in Crockett, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco, has now been contained, the Contra Costa Country fire department said on Twitter. The tanks held “very low volumes of ethanol” comprising less than 1% of their capacity, NuStar said earlier in a statement. All operations have been suspended and product shipments into and out of the facility have halted. All personnel are safe and accounted for.
A shelter in place order has been lifted for all areas affected areas near the Nustar facility, the Contra Costa County health department said in a tweet. Since there is no longer any imminent danger to the public, a section of Interstate 80 near the terminal that had been closed in both directions has now re-opened, the California Highway Patrol said in a tweet.
The blaze comes less than a day after an earthquake forced Marathon Petroleum Corp (NYSE:). to shut units at its nearby Martinez refinery, threatening to push up gasoline prices that had just eased from the highest level in seven years. Disruptions at California refineries sent retail pump prices in the state well above $4 a gallon.
Two tanks were burning as of late Tuesday afternoon and three other tanks, holding ethanol and jet fuel, were threatened and being doused with water, Steve Hill, a spokesman for the Contra Costa Fire Protection District, said in a televised press conference. He corrected an earlier statement saying three tanks were burning.
The two burned tanks contained a combined 250,000 gallons of ethanol. The blaze spread to 15 acres of nearby vegetation, a brush fire that was put out, Hill said. A shelter-in-place order was in force and between 12 and 20 nearby residents were evacuated.
The incident also comes a week after the state’s utility PG&E Corp. shut power to 738,000 homes and businesses to prevent wildfires similar to those that devastated the state last year, causing dozens of fatalities.
Phillips 66’s Rodeo refinery wasn’t affected by the blaze, the company said in a tweet. Some early initial reports indicated the fire was at the refinery, located close to the NuStar terminal.
Nustar operates about 9,800 miles of pipeline and 74 terminal and storage facilities that store and distribute , refined products and specialty liquids. Its San Francisco-area facility has a capacity of about 3 million barrels of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and ethanol, according to the company’s website.
(Updates with lifting of shelter-in-place order, re-opening of highway in third paragraph.)
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