Air quality advisory issued as fire burns at Schnitzer Steel in Oakland


OAKLAND – As crews continued to battle a blaze at Schnitzer Steel in West Oakland on Wednesday night, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District warned that heavy smoke from the fire could impact several East Bay cities and possibly even reach San Jose.

In an advisory, the air district said winds were expected to push the smoke south and east into Alameda, Fremont, Oakland and San Leandro. There were additional reports of smoke in Newark and Contra Costa County.

“The air district is not forecasting an exceedance of the national air quality standard for the region and is not issuing a Spare the Air Alert,” the district said in the advisory.

The air district urged residents who smell smoke to stay inside with windows and doors closed until smoke levels subside. Air conditioning units and vehicle ventilation systems should be set to re-circulate to keep smoke from moving inside, according to the air district.

The fire was reported around 5:30 p.m. at Schnitzer Steel, located at 1101 Embarcadero West, said Oakland Interim Fire Chief Damon Covington. The company, which changed its name to Radius Recycling last month, specializes in collecting, processing and selling recycled steel.

Covington said crews “got water on the fire, but it grew rapidly.” Smoke from the fire was visible for miles.

As of 7:30 p.m., the fire was contained to a single pile of debris but not yet under control.

Crews were continuing to put water on the blaze as heavy equipment operators worked to pick apart the pile to help locate and extinguish hot spots, according to the fire department. Fire boats from Alameda and San Francisco also provided support from the estuary.

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