Fire engulfs petrochemical storage facility near San Francisco

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(Reuters) – Flames engulfed two ethanol holding tanks on Tuesday at a NuStar Energy petrochemical storage facility near San Francisco, prompting health authorities to urge residents of two adjacent towns to remain indoors for much of the day while crews battled to subdue the blaze.

No injuries were reported from the fire, which began shortly before 2 p.m. (2100 GMT) and spread to a large grassy field just outside the tank farm in the waterfront community of Crockett, California, about 30 miles northeast of San Francisco. 

Local media reported an explosion that shook buildings and rattled windows for miles around and sent a fireball into the air. Some residents thought it was an earthquake, the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper reported.

One of the two burning storage tanks collapsed from the blaze, spilling some of its contents into a secondary containment area and raising the threat of flames spreading to nearby structures.

Health authorities monitoring air quality in the area issued advisories urging residents of Crockett and Rodeo to remain indoors with windows closed to limit their exposure to soot and smoke from the fire for about 8 hours. The order was lifted about 10 p.m., fire officials said.

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