Investigators wait to access site of refinery fire


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Investigators are waiting for access to the charred crude oil unit of a Chevron refinery where a fire sent a towering plume of black smoke into San Francisco Bay area skies and pushed gas prices higher along the West Coast.

The same team of U.S. Chemical Safety Board investigators that probed the Deepwater Horizon oil spill along the Gulf Coast was waiting Thursday for structural and environmental tests to find out if it was safe to enter the unit in California.

Chevron said it did not know when access to the site would occur, but government investigators expected testing to be completed Friday.

Hundreds of people went to hospitals with respiratory issues during the fire at the Richmond refinery that produces 16 percent of the region's daily gasoline supply.

Inventories of California's specially formulated, clean-burning gas already were low.