Initial Findings of Benicia Port Fire Investigation Announced 

Port of Benicia
Port of Benicia
A partial view of damage caused by a four-alarm Port of Benicia fire. Photo courtesy of the City of Benicia.

A fire at the Port of Benicia that damaged part of the port pier the weekend of April 9, may have started “on or near the lower portion of the coke conveyor belt system near the base of the silos,” according to initial findings announced April 12 by Benicia Fire Chief Josh Chadwick. 

The fire, which mushroomed into a four-alarm blaze, started at the base of the petroleum coke silo and apparently spread under the pier Saturday. Fire crews fought the blaze through the night before it was fully extinguished Sunday afternoon. 

“The fire appears to be unintentional in nature,” Chadwick said, adding that the investigation remains open and ongoing. “Electrical and mechanical causes have not yet been ruled out.” 

Meanwhile, the City of Benicia said in a statement that it plans to meet bi-weekly with Benicia refinery operator Valero and terminal operator Amports to talk about port damage, operational ability and what next steps need to be taken to start cleaning up and rebuilding the damaged part of the pier. 

The U.S. Coast Guard and the State Lands Commission have received engineering reports from Valero and Amports, with Valero stating that it plans to again use the eastern terminal for delivering crude oil, while Amports plans to use the western terminal to accept vehicle imports.   

Both can resume operations once the Coast Guard approves the reports. The petroleum coke terminal, however, is expected remain closed for the time being. 

By Karen Robes Meeks