Energy tank fire contained after eight hours in Northern California

The fire near Berkeley closed Interstate 80 and led to shelter-in-place orders. No injuries were reported.

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By Alex Johnson

A fire that consumed two industrial-size tanks of ethanol in Northern California led authorities to urge thousands of residents to shelter in place for several hours on Tuesday as thick black smoke poured into the sky.

The fire at NuStar Energy LP's Selby Terminal facility in Crockett, on the Carquinez Strait about 20 miles north of Berkeley, was reported about 2 p.m. and forced the closing of both lanes of Interstate 80. The freeway was reopened late Tuesday, the California Highway Patrol announced.

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Authorities said the facility was evacuated, and NuStar said all employees were safe.

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The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CalFire, said the fire spread to about 15 acres of vegetation around the site before it was contained Tuesday night.

"This is a very dynamic, rapidly evolving situation. We've got two tanks that are releasing chemicals that are still burning," Contra Costa County fire Capt. George Laing said.

Contra Costa County health officials issued shelter-in-place orders for about 12,000 people in neighborhoods near the facility where higher-than-normal levels of particulate matter were detected in the air. The order wasn't lifted until eight hours later.

NuStar, which is based in San Antonio, operates 74 terminal and storage facilities for oil and other material across the United States, Canada and Mexico.