Timeline of events leading up to the Chevron refinery fire Aug. 6 in Richmond:

  • 3:48 p.m.: Plant operator (PO) observes a leak on piping and notifies Head Operator (HO)

  • 3:53 p.m.: Shift team leader notified and rushes to scene

  • 4:02 p.m.: Two Chevron fire trucks respond with special engine foam fire retardant

  • 4:08 p.m.: CFD (Chevron Fire Department) tests atmosphere around leak, determines not flammable

  • 4:09 p.m.: Control Board Operator (CBO) reduces feed into pipe as part of shutdown procedure

  • 4:19 p.m.: Section of leaking pipe cannot be isolated; workers decide to remove insulation and jacketing to inspect the leak; plan devised to erect scaffolding near leak so insulation could be removed to see whether online repair was feasible

  • 4:50 p.m.: While scaffolding being erected, plan devised to use two firefighters to pry off jacketing and insulation

  • 5 p.m.: Turnover from day to night shift for CFD

  • 6:10 p.m. to 6:21 p.m.: Two firefighters cut the bands and begin removing weather jacketing


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  • 6:22 p.m.: Small flash fire ignites when second layer of weather jacketing is removed; fire extinguished; firefighters descend from scaffolding and set up blitz monitor to provide additional water; CFD switches from power cone to straight stream nozzle water to knock away oil-soaked pipe insulation; water shut off to assess damage and increase in leak is evident, material begins to smoke

  • 6:27 p.m.: Emergency shutdown and evacuation ordered