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Residents in Richmond and San Pablo are being told to shelter-in-place after a fire broke out at a Chevron refinery in Richmond.
Chevron released a statement about two hours after the fire began, saying that the company does not confirm any explosions and "will not speculate on the cause of this incident."
Large flames with thick black smoke are still coming out of at least two refinery stacks at the facility. An official with the Contra Costa County Health Services says the fire, first reported at 6:40 p.m. Monday, is burning in a processing unit at the facility where gasoline and jet fuel are produced.
Firefighters are spraying water on the fire to control flames so they can go inside and turn off equipment. NBC-LA reports that Chevron's own fire department has about 60 firefighters on site but that local departments and hazmat teams from the surrounding area are also on scene (along with Air Quality Management, who are currently taking air samples for later testing).
Witnesses in the area reported hearing explosions shortly before 7 p.m., according to the San Jose Mercury News.
According to KQED and the Contra Costa County Health Services Department, people have been asked to go inside, close all windows and doors and turn off any fans, heaters or air conditioners.
"Residents should close fireplace dampers and vents, and cover cracks around doors and windows with tape or damped towels," says KQED.
Public transit has been shut down between Richmond and North Berkeley, says the San Francisco BART.
The fire has erupted a day before a special exhibit set to honor the 110th anniversary of the Chevron Refinery opens at the Richmond Museum of History.
Update: The SFist is reporting that the refinery is now releasing a Level 3 HazMat order, but that one of the fires is out.
Update at 8:06 p.m.: The area's shelter-in-place has now been expanded to El Cerrito, West Richmond, Richmond and San Pablo.
Update at 8:12 p.m.: Chevron has released a statement saying that the fire started at 6:15, but the company does not confirm any explosions and "will not speculate on the cause of this incident."