RICHMOND -- A fire that one official said cast flames as high as four stories tall at the Chevron refinery early Wednesday was sparked by materials leaked from a specialized hose and not the result of a pipe leak, a spokeswoman for the company said.

Fire crews were called to the refinery around 2:10 a.m. and were able to knock down the blaze in about an hour, Richmond fire Chief Michael Banks said. The cause initially given by fire officials was that a line carrying crude oil had a leaked and sparked the fire.

A pipe leak sparked the August 2012 fire at the refinery, which burned for four hours and sent 15,000 people to area hospitals.

In this case, the leak came from a hose used by maintenance workers on a part of the refinery not in use, refinery spokeswoman Melissa Ritchie said.

The hose contained partially refined hydrocarbon, according to the refinery, a combination of molecules most often found in crude oil. When the hydrocarbon leaked, it sparked the blaze, Ritchie said.

Refinery officials were still investigating what caused the hose to fail, she said.

Nobody was injured in the blaze, which Battalion Chief Merlin Turner said sent flames as high as four stories tall. The fire was kept to the back of the refinery and extinguished quickly enough that a public warning to shelter in place wasn't needed, fire and refinery officials said.


Advertisement

"Everything was contained in that area where the fire occurred," Banks said. "And there was no off-site impact to the community. So it did not require any sort of community watch."

Chevron's own hazardous materials team, along with one from Contra Costa County, cleaned up after the leak, Ritchie said. Crews remained there Wednesday morning monitoring hot spots.

The fire was the second one since the infamous fire there almost two years ago. A small fire at a steam boiler was put out quickly in May.

Contact Rick Hurd at 925-945-4789 and follow him at Twitter.com/3rderh.