Huge plume of smoke from debris fire near Port of Oakland impacting air quality

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Thursday, August 10, 2023
Smoke from Oakland debris fire impacting air quality
A fire burning in a debris pile at Schnitzer Steel near the Port of Oakland is putting off a lot of smoke that can be seen from miles away.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- A fire burning in a debris pile at a recycling plant near the Port of Oakland Wednesday put off a lot of smoke that prompted warnings about diminishing air quality in the area.

The fire is burning at Schnitzer Steel along Embarcadero West on the edge of Jack London Square.

Oakland fire officials said Wednesday the fire was contained, meaning it won't spread but it's going to burn for quite a while.

It is still burning Thursday morning, when Schnitzer Steel released this statement:

Yesterday evening a fire occurred at our recycling facility at 1101 Embarcadero West. The Oakland Fire Department swiftly arrived on the scene in response and there are no reported injuries from the incident. We are working closely with the first responders to bring this situation to a safe conclusion.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued an air quality advisory for parts of the Bay Area due to smoke from the fire.

The smoke is expected to impact Oakland, San Leandro, Fremont and Alameda, with potential impacts as far south as San Jose Wednesday evening. Winds are expected to push the smoke south and east. The Air District is monitoring this situation closely.

The heavy smoke from the fire clearing out Jack London Square, where the only people around were those who had just gotten off the ferry.

"Looks very scary. I hope they're going to turn it out soon," tourist Ljuba Keenan said.

Naarai Zaynah works for San Francisco Bay Ferry. She says as they got closer to the fire, many on board were shocked.

"We started passing out masks to try and help protect them as much as we could," Zaynah said.

RELATED: Fire at metal recycling facility leaves smoke over Oakland's Jack London Square

The potential health impacts, the biggest worry for everyone we talked to.

"I'm going to get out of here real soon because this isn't healthy to be breathing in and if it wasn't for the dog I wouldn't be out in it," Oakland resident Jason Bolden Anderson said.

OFD's hazardous material will conduct ongoing air quality testing while the smoke continues to impact the area and will work with the county to provide updates to residents.

There have been fires at Schnitzer Steel in the past, the most recent in June 2020 and there have been more than half a dozen going back to 2010.

Stay with ABC7 News for the latest details on this developing story.

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