At around 2 p.m. Tuesday, a fire broke out in two tanks at the Nustar oil and refined products storage facility in Crockett, California. The fire prompted authorities to warn about 12,000 residents to stay inside their houses with all windows and doors sealed due to hazardous particulates in the air. The residents were also advised to turn off heaters, air conditioners, and fans.
The Contra Costa Health Department announced a “hazardous materials emergency” affecting Crockett and nearby Rodeo.
Authorities advised residents to “cover any cracks around doors or windows with tape or damp towels.”
“Stay off the phone unless you need to report a life-threatening emergency at your location. This is a very dynamic, rapidly evolving situation.”
According to Contra Costa Fire Department spokesman Steve Hill, the tanks held varying amounts of ethanol. One of the tanks contained around 167,000 gallons of the flammable substance.
About 200 firefighters responded to the scene to put out the fire. The blazes were extinguished using foam on the flames and water to cool adjacent tanks to prevent them from catching fire.
The incident forced the closure of Interstate 80, causing major traffic jams. The closure was expected to last at least until midnight.