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Update on the Chevron refinery fire with reporter Sean Maher

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Flickr user D.H. Parks, Under CC License

Last night’s fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond put city residents in a state of panic. The fire sent up a huge plume of black smoke, stopping traffic, closing bridges, and shutting down BART stations.

The large-scale chemical fire still has local residents concerned for their health and safety. Many say they heard about the fire late, and that the multi-lingual phone system that is supposed to alert the diverse communities of Richmond in case of a disaster didn’t work. 

"After another major fire at the refinery in the early nineties, our community members advocated for a multilingual warning system," said Roger Kim, executive director of the Asian-Pacific Environmental Network. "Unfortunately that warning system didn't work yesterday, according to the members that we've talked to. They did not receive a phone call as they were supposed to, and so we're investigating why the system failed."

And while it’s all over now, Richmond mayor Gayle McLaughlin says she wants a full investigation into what happened and how another fire can be prevented. Contra Costa Times reporter Sean Maher covered the fire and its aftermath.

The biggest thing we're hearing people upset about so far is that they didn't find out quickly enough. Many are reporting that weren't notified until they saw the fire on the news. And they didn't realize there were health concerns coming their way until they saw it on television.

Click on the player above to hear the full interview.

You can voice your concerns tonight at 6pm at a community meeting Chevron is hosting at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium located at 403 Civic Center Plaza, in Richmond.

Hana Baba is host of Crosscurrents, KALW's weeknight newsmagazine that broadcasts on KALW Public Radio in the San Francisco Bay Area.