Wednesday, August 08, 2012
Bay Area iReporters witness ‘black cloud of hell’

When Kyleigh Kuhn looked upon the horizon while visiting her family in San Rafael, California, she couldn’t believe her eyes.

The model and founder/CEO of the company, “Twenty Four Suns”, took out her camera and shot video of the huge plume of smoke in the distance Monday evening.

“I was watching the white plume of smoke get larger than normal. I pointed it out to our family and friends and right then was when black smoke began billowing out. The big black plume started to look almost like a mushroom cloud,” she described. “We were uncertain whether something exploded or not. My brother's eyes got very red even though we were quite far away from the smoke.”

Smoke from the fire, which began at a massive Chevron refinery in Richmond, California, could be seen from many vantage points in the Bay Area and iReporters shared their views of it.

Susan Coopersmith got several shots from the view of a kayak from nearby Richardson Bay. “I couldn't smell or feel it. I didn't know what had happened but I knew it was big because the plume was huge,” she said.

Jason Wells was photographing a house in Novato, California, when he saw a dark cloud in the sky out of the corner of his eye. “I took another look and saw thick black smoke rising from across the bay. I know that's where the Chevron oil refinery is so I grabbed my camera and took a shot.”

iReporter Jordon Nesbitt got a closer look at the smoke plume, which he described as a “black cloud of hell.”

“I took this photo minutes after 6 p.m., when the first big cloud rose in the air. If you look close, you could see the balls of flames jumping in the air.”

There might be long-term repercussions for California’s economy, and Chevron itself has faced harsh criticism from Richmond residents according to CNN affiliate KGO. Richmond mayor Gayle McLaughlin has demanded an investigation into the incident.

Thanks to all of the iReporters shared on-the-ground images and first reports. Is there breaking news near you? Share your photos, videos and stories with iReport.

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