Evacuation Ordered Near Chevron Gas Storage Fire

BAY POINT, California (AP) — A fire that ignited in an underground natural gas storage area in the San Francisco Bay Area prompted the evacuation of thousands of residents, as Chevron emergency crews worked Thursday to purge gas from a pipeline and prevent an explosion, officials said.

The evacuation order was issued late Wednesday for about 1,400 homes near the pipeline in Bay Point after the fire started. About 4,000 people were affected.

Workers spent the night purging natural gas from the pipeline and planned to inject nitrogen "which will extinguish the fire" burning in the underground vault, Chevron spokesman Cary Wages told reporters.

The fire began after a grass fire Wednesday evening near the pipeline that crews quickly extinguished, said Terence Carey, an assistant fire chief for the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. About an hour later, another fire was reported in the underground vault that serves as a storage unit, he said.

"It was realized very quickly that there was a high probability of danger," Carey said, explaining the evacuation order for homes within a half-mile (0.8 kilometer) of the pipeline. Officials went door-to-door to tell people to leave their homes in the suburban area about 40 miles (65 kilometers) east of San Francisco.

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