RELATED: Crews knock down massive fire at Richmond auto wrecking yard
It happened at the deal wrecking yard on Richmond Parkway.
The thick, black smoke could be seen for miles and the flames were as high as the hoses on ladder trucks trying to douse them and neighbors awoke to loud popping sounds at the auto wrecking yard across the Richmond Parkway.
"I was sitting in the drive when I heard a great, big huge explosion," said neighbor Anita Blount. "I got out of my car and I was, just saw billowing black smoke. I was very startled."
"When you have vehicles in proximity like that, obviously there's going to be some heat transfer and that's exactly what occurred and that's probably why you heard some things," said Richmond Fire Department Chief Emon Usher. "Some pops and things like that."
The multi-agency response included crews from the nearby Chevron refinery which supplied the foam that eventually put out the flames.
Teams from Contra Costa County Hazmat, Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were all on scene to assess the aftermath, including potential contaminates in the smoke.
"The wind absolutely helped us," Seth Heller from Contra Costa Hazmat. "The wind is really our friend in these types of situations. It causes mixing and dispersal. It's really what we need in these types of incidents. We couldn't have asked for better weather today.
Though not mandated by law, Contra Costa fire inspectors last visited the yard in March. The owner was cited for two violations, both abated by May.
PHOTOS: Cars go up in flames at Richmond auto wrecking yard