RICHMOND (CBS SF) — Cash-paying motorists crossing the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge on Monday night were not being charged a toll, after toll takers evacuated to the toll plaza office because of smoke from a fire burning at the nearby Richmond Chevron oil refinery.
Motorists were able to pass through the toll plaza without paying cash, according to the California Highway Patrol, although it was possible that FasTrak users could still get charged electronically.
Hours later however, Caltrans spokesman Bob Haus said all motorists would likely receive bills in the mail for the toll, but wouldn’t be fined for passing through toll booths without stopping. Cameras at the toll booths generally record license plate numbers of vehicles that pass through.
RELATED CONTENT: Photo Gallery Of Refinery Fire Smoke
The toll workers were evacuated shortly after Contra Costa Health Services issued a shelter-in-place alert for roughly 160,000 residents in the East Bay when the fire created a large plume of black smoke over the cities of Richmond and San Pablo — triggering concerns about air quality.
Among those residents impacted was Frederick Hamilton, 51, who said the air outside his home on Henry Clark Lane in North Richmond, near the refinery, was filled with a chemical odor.
“You can smell it,” he told the Bay City News service, while coughing and complaining of a headache. “I was out there in it. This stuff is crazy.”
Officials at Kaiser Permanente’s Richmond hospital told CBS 5 that they treated about three dozen patients in the emergency room that complained of respiratory problems.
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