Benicia Port fire is under control, but damage could impact gas prices in the Bay Area, city official says

BENICIA, Calif. (KGO) — Fierce flames swept across a pier in Benicia Harbor sending up thick black smoke. The four-alarm fire started on Saturday afternoon near a silo filled with petroleum coke, a byproduct of fuel refining. It then extended to a long wooden dock, topped with concrete. Putting out the flames was nearly impossible.

“This wood was soaked in creosote which is like a petroleum product to keep it from rotting, it is also flammable which is difficult to extinguish even if we had access to it, Benicia Fire Chief Josh Chadwick said.

Fireboats from Oakland, Marin and San Francisco were called in to fight the fire from the water. The dramatic shootout will continue throughout the night. A cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The nonprofit San Francisco Baykeeper shared drone footage over the blaze, capturing what appeared to be an oily residue on the water that could pose a risk to the environment and marine life.

“But obviously no amount of petroleum product is an acceptable amount to end up in the water,” said Cole Burchiel of Baykeeper.

The fire department said it was working with the US Coast Guard and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to address pollution issues.

The dock is mainly used to unload cars imported from Asia and also used by the Valero Benicia refinery.

While damage to the port is still being assessed, Benicia’s deputy city manager believes the economic impacts could be felt across the region and could further worsen gasoline prices.

VIDEO: Massive fire with 4 alarms at the port of Benicia

“If the port is down and it’s hard to get crude to the refinery, that will definitely have an impact. Valero supplies a lot of California’s gasoline, if they’re impacted by processing the gross, this will have an impact for the region, said Benicia city deputy director Mario Giulani.

It wasn’t the wedding day Lisa and Jeff Brown were expecting. Their Saturday wedding was called off after the historic clock tower venue was evacuated.

“Getting a call during hair and makeup – we were all evacuating – was unreal,” Lisa Brown said.

The wedding party pivoted, holding the nuptials in a downtown park and the wedding reception, at a Vallejo funeral home.

“So a wedding and a funeral on the same day,” said Jeff Brown.

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