VALLEJO (KPIX 5) – A shelter-in-place order for Vallejo residents was lifted Wednesday morning, after a mysterious odor prompted hundreds people to go to the hospital.
The shelter-in-place odor was lifted around 6 a.m. after firefighters said gas monitors reported no abnormal readings.
Vallejo police said the first call on the odor came in at 7:20 p.m. Tuesday from the western side of Mare Island. Kaiser Hospital was inundated Tuesday night with patients who said they were having trouble breathing.
Around a thousand calls came into 911 dispatch starting just after 7 p.m. Hundreds of people went to the hospital complaining of nausea and trouble breathing.
“I called the police and they told me to evacuate the city or go into shelter,” one woman told KPIX 5.
Officials have ruled out natural gas as the cause of the mystery odor. It is unclear if a reported oil sheen on San Pablo Bay near the Carquinez Strait is the cause of the odor.
The mysterious sheen in waters of San Pablo Bay measured approximately a mile long by 40 yards wide.
“I’m really concerned about my family,” said Raymond Brockett, one of thousands of people who had to shelter in place last night when a strong gas odor enveloped Vallejo.
“What if this stuff is toxic and we find out later it’s going to affect us?” asked Brockett.
At around the same time the smell was reported, a ferry spotted a sheen in the water stretching from San Pablo Bay to the Carquinez Strait.
The Coast Guard sent up its chopper Wednesday morning to investigate. Several early Vallejo ferries were cancelled so the boats wouldn’t spread the sheen, leaving commuters in long lines for buses.
KPIX 5 reporter Anne Makovec tweeted this picture of commuters being forced to board buses for their trip to work.
Makovec said ferry service resumed around 8 a.m.
The Coast Guard is currently testing the water to see if they can figure out what the sheen is and if it might be connected to last night’s gassy odor.
The Vallejo Fire Department said there is no danger to the public.
“We have four gas detectors that we use to monitor the atmosphere,” said Vallejo Fire Department spokesperson Kevin Brown. “We didn’t pick up any unsafe readings anywhere throughout the city.”
But Brockett was still concerned despite those reassurances.
“I was very frustrated, because they had no answers,” said Brockett. “I have no idea what my family was breathing.”