Officials deem emergency protocols during fire at NuStar facility effective

Emergency protocols put into effect as a blaze at Crockett fuel plant raged on, seemed to have kept residents informed, officials said Wednesday. 

Sirens blared from the NuStar Energy facility, a sound familiar to residents in the small community of Tormey. 

Miguel Delgado lives in the area and says they test the sirens once a week, but what occurred yesterday wasn't a drill. 

"The power went out and then the sirens were going off letting everyone know that the fire and the fumes were going up," Delgado said. 

The sirens alert residents to shelter-in-place. 

Carolyn Sanford who lives two doors down, said she heard and felt the explosions. 

"It was loud and the house just shook and rattled the windows rattled and everything," Sanford said. 

She gathered her prescriptions and oxygen for her husband and evacuated. 

"The sheriff's came in knocking at all the doors. They did a pretty good job. Got everybody out," Delgado recalls. 

Randy Sawyer with Contra Costa County Health Services said numerous agencies came together to alert the public. They worked with fire officials and the sheriff's office to contact residents in Crockett, Rodeo, and other nearby towns. 

"That included telephone calls; it included cell phones that had been registered on the system. That includes Twitter updates, Facebook updates, social media and also included the weather radios at the stations," Sawyer said. 

The sirens blared every 30 minutes and Sawyer says the emergency alerts to the public were effective. 

But Sanford's daughter Becky Jacque felt she was left in the dark about her parents' whereabouts and how to reach them. 

"They weren't really asked where they would like to go to. If they had a family member that lived nearby. They were just taken to the Dead Fish restaurant," Jacque said. "That was rather upsetting because the roads were closed and we had no access to get to them." 

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District will test an air sample provided by the county to learn more about what toxins are in the air. Officials can track plumes to determine what communities may be impacted down the road.