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Massive Richmond Junkyard Fire Under Control, Shelter In Place Lifted

RICHMOND (CBS SF) – A fire in a Richmond auto wrecking yard sent a huge column of black smoke into the air, destroyed 150 junk cars and kept nearby residents sheltered in their homes for nearly three hours Friday before it was brought under control, according to a Contra Costa County fire spokesman.

Firefighters first responded to the fire at West Gertrude Avenue and Richmond Parkway a little after 7 a.m. and issued the shelter-in-place order for neighborhoods in the immediate area at about 8 a.m.

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Richmond Deputy Fire Chief Emon Usher said initially firefighters had trouble accessing the yard as the fire jumped from vehicle to vehicle. In all at least 150 cars junk cars were destroyed before the blaze could be brought under control using flame suppressant foam.

County health officials concerned about the safety of the thick black smoke from the burning auto bodies, tires and plastics ordered local residents to shelter-in-place and also students at Downer Elementary, Cesar Chavez Elementary, Richmond High School and Salesian College Preparatory.

Usher said a hazmat team was on scene testing the air. He said there were no reports of any nearby residents having respiratory issues because of the smoke.

Crews had the fire under control by about 10 a.m. and lifted the shelter-in-place order at about 10:50 a.m., according to Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Fire Marshal Robert Marshall.

Smoke from the fire could be seen from much of the East Bay, Marin County and San Francisco. A cause of the fire had yet to be determined.

No injuries were reported and no structures burned, Marshall said.

Crews have been continually conducting air quality monitoring during the incident.

The fire was listed as one-alarm but required additional, specialized crews and equipment from the nearby Chevron Richmond Refinery.

The Chevron crews provided the foam fire retardant that was the key to eventually dousing the blaze, Marshall said.

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