The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline Friday in San Diego County recorded its largest daily increase since Feb. 24—5.3 cents—because of a Northern California refinery fire expected to reduce gasoline supplies.
The average price of $3.992 is the highest since June 16, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service.
The average price is 14.8 cents more than one week ago, 30.8 cents higher than one month ago and 21.9 cents greater than one year ago.
The average price has risen 26 times in the past 29 days, increasing 31.6 cents over that span, including 4.7 cents on Thursday.
Monday night's major fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond had an immediate effect on the wholesale gasoline market on Tuesday, which caused gas prices to shoot up since then," said Jeffrey Spring of the Automobile Club of Southern California.
Southern Californians have already been experiencing increased pump prices for nearly a month due to higher oil prices and this incident has just made the increases come even more quickly.
"However, since that Northern California refinery is still partly operating, the impact may not be as great as what happened in February with the Cherry Point refinery fine in Washington. More should be known in the next few days."
The fire at a BP refinery in Washington state in February left the plant out of commission until May, causing gasoline prices in the Pacific Northwest to rise about 70 cents.
On Monday, refinery spokesman Nigel Hearne issued an apology and said the cause of the 6:30 p.m. fire in the number 4 crude unit was unknown.
Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia said many people had gone to Doctors hospital with respiratory complaints, and KRON TV said the emergency room was "packed" with people experiencing breathing problems, burning eyes and irritation of mucous membranes.
The fire spewed a huge plume visible for miles and prompting authorities to issue a shelter-in-place warning. Flames were seen shooting out of at least two towers at the refinery.
Contra Costa Health Services activated its emergency phone notification system and issued a shelter-in-place warning for Richmond, North Richmond and San Pablo. Residents were urged to remain indoors, and to close all windows and doors and seal any cracks to protect the interior from outside air.
KTVU reported that officials have issued a level-3 community warning, meaning that the fire can cause eye, skin, nose or respiratory irritation.
In a statement, Chevron said the fire started at the 4 Crude Unit at 6:15 p.m. and they do not know what caused the accident.
—City News Service contributed to this report.