MARTINEZ -- Hazardous materials crews quickly contained a small fire at the Shell Refinery in Martinez on Monday afternoon and there was little if no impact to the community, a health department official said.

The fire, which caused a small amount of smoke, was reported at 2:20 p.m. and controlled in about 10 minutes, said Randy Sawyer, the county's chief environmental health and hazardous materials officer. Some residual flaring was expected at the refinery, but that would have no impact on the public, officials said.

"There seemed to be no impact to the community and if there was it was very small," he said.

The Contra Costa County Health Department issued a Level 1 health advisory -- directing those with asthma or other breathing problems to avoid the area or stay inside and close windows and doors -- when the fire broke out, but it was lifted a short time later, Sawyer said. An official shelter-in-place notice was not issued.

The fire broke out in the refinery's "hydro cracker" unit, which is used for breaking down carbon compounds to burn better for gas production, Sawyer said.

The fire comes one week after a massive fire Aug. 6 at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, which kept residents in Richmond, North Richmond, San Pablo and North Oakland indoors for several hours while fire crews battled the blaze. That fire shut down a major unit in the refinery, injured five employees and sent plumes of black smoke across East Bay communities into Tuesday morning. The county issued a Level 3 advisory, the most serious, for the Chevron fire.


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Two days later, a shelter-in-place warning and sirens went off near the Shell refinery in Martinez about 7:15 a.m. But it turned out to be a false alarm, police said. There was no emergency or fire that day at the Shell refinery.

Reach Kristin J. Bender at kbender@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/kjbender.