Category Archives: Fire

AMPORTS, Valero and consumers could be hit hard by Benicia Port Fire

Benicia Port Fire Could Spur New Round of Inflation

KPIX 5 News, Da Lin reports, April 10, 2022

It took fire crews 24 hours to extinguish the dock fire in Benicia.
Now the port and the companies that use it are taking stock of the possible economic impact.

 

Benicia port fire fully extinguished

Benicia port fire fully extinguished, officials say; cause still being determined

ABC7 Bay Area News, By Cornell Barnard, Ryan Curry, April 10, 2022

BENICIA, Calif. (KGO) — A four-alarm fire that burned beneath a commercial pier for nearly 24 hours at Benicia Port has been extinguished, and water clean-up efforts are underway, city officials said in a press release Sunday.

The fire, first reported at 12:20 p.m. Saturday, broke out in the 1000 block of Bayshore Drive, adjacent to the Amports port terminal. It was burning at the base of a petroleum coke silo, with flames traveling up a conveyer belt toward a docked tanker ship.

The video above is from a previous report.

Thick black smoke filled the air Saturday as fire engines and fire boats attacked the inferno from all sides.

Fire crews from across Solano County raced to the scene off Bayshore Road. The fire began just before noon, five hours later it was still burning. ABC7 News cameras captured the moment parts of the dock collapsed into the water.

At a 4:30p.m. press conference, an official said that “no injuries have been reported.”

Ships anchored at the Port were moved away for safety into the Carquinez Straights, including an oil tanker.

“This is crazy, it’s scary because they offload gas and oil here,” said Tony Ciarrochi from Benicia.


Longshoreman working at the port were told to leave.

“I’m feeling panicky because we can’t get down there, some of our coworkers are still in there, it’s a toxic situation right now,” said Longshoreman Gail Day.

No one was hurt in the fire but Benicia fire officials were concerned about hazardous materials on the pier like creosote, which could harm the environment.

Fire officials believe the fire could burn for 24 hours at least. A cause is still under investigation.

The fire was burning adjacent to a historic park where a wedding was scheduled Saturday but the area was ordered evacuated. The wedding party was looking for a backup plan.

“We’re sending all the guests to another location to regroup and see if we can hold the wedding at a park, a house or anywhere we can,” said photographer David Hall.

No shelter-in-place order was issued for nearby residents. But health officials in Contra Costa County advised the public to limit outdoor activities.

The Solano County Fire Investigation Unit is working to determine the cause of the fire.

The city will then work with Valero and Amports on port repairs and reconstruction efforts.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

KQED on Benicia Port fire – Fire Chief reports refinery byproducts are burning, so far residents spared by west winds

Who and what is East of the Benicia Port?  Where is toxic ash falling to ground?

 

Benicia Fire Chief Josh Chadwick gives details on the 4-alarm fire at the Benicia Port

News Conference, partial transcript of Benicia Fire Chief Josh Chadwick’s remarks on the 4-Alarm Port Fire
By Roger Straw, April 9, 2022
Benicia Fire Chief Josh Chadwick on April 9, 2022 concerning large pier fire at the Port of Benicia.  Video of the presser can’t be embedded here, but it is available from Announcements on the City Website at https://benftp.exavault.com/p/IT/Sandy/Benicia%20Port%20Fire.

What follows is my rough transcription of most of Benicia Fire Chief Josh Chadwick’s statement to the press on April 9, 2022 concerning the 4-alarm fire at the Port of Benicia.  (Taken from audio that is difficult at best.)  – R.S.

>> Chief Chadwick reported that the fire started in a small outbuilding at the base of the petcoke silos.  The conveyor belt that goes from there up toward where the ships are loaded was catching fire.  At first the Fire Department thought they had a petcoke fire.

The fire at the base of the silo was quickly extinguished, but the crews had a difficult time accessing the conveyor belt system.  It’s large rubber tracks were on fire all the way to the top.

The fire dropped from the top of the conveyor belt and ultimately caught the pier on fire.  The pier is large with a blacktop road surface, and underneath it are large timbers that have been soaked in creosote.  When those start burning, they are very difficult to access and extinguish, and they were the main part of the fire during this incident.  We requested 4 fire boats, as they are the only real access to these creosote logs beneath the pier.

Our biggest concern was the unlikely possibility of a shift in wind direction.  Light winds have continued to move from the west, blowing the smoke out onto the Strait.

The other concern would be hazardous materials.  Obviously there’s a lot of chemicals in that wood, and everything else on that pier that would’ve made its way into the water, and we are working closely with Fish and Wildlife and US Coast Guard on that issue….

We have also been in contact with AMPORTS and Valero Refinery…

(in response to press questions…)

We had a very similar pier fire early on in my career, and it burned for a couple of days…

That pier is used for offloading oil from ships, loading petcoke onto ships, and offloading cars…

It will likely be 24 to 48 hours before the fire is completely extinguished.

Hazardous materials have burned.  Petcoke is considered a hazardous material.  I do not know if any of it burned, but my understanding is that the large volume of it in the silos is not currently on fire, so if it did, it was a small amount at the base.  On the pier itself, there are numerous hazardous materials: there are tanks of gasoline, tanks of diesel that we can’t get to because there’s fire underneath it.  That has the potential to burn, but for the most part, what’s been burning is the timber that has been soaked in creosote, and that also is hazardous.  When it burns it emits hazardous smoke.  …yes there are a few small tanks on top…

I’m not a hazardous materials expert, but if you know what railroad ties are,…it’s like a black oil that they have used for many years to keep lumber from rotting if it’s in the ground or water.

QUESTION about the impact of these chemicals on the environment and the ocean if some of that petcoke did burn, and these other products…

My primary concern is with the impact to our citizens in their air, and right now 100% due to favorable wind conditions, we haven’t had that issue.  And the same with my fire crews on the scene – they have not been impacted by that.  As far as what it does to the environment, that would be more a question for the Bay Area Air Quality District.