Mysterious Odor in Vallejo Sends Dozens to the Hospital

VALLEJO -- A shelter-in-place alert was lifted in Vallejo Wednesday morning after a mysterious odor sent dozens of people to area hospitals, some by ambulance. A citywide check with gas monitors by firefighters and PG&E turned up nothing dangerous. But it also didn't find a source.

"It smelled like burning rubber or tar... it kind of burned my nose a little bit, and it was kind of hard to breathe," said Vallejo resident Kaitlyn Zinc.

She initially thought something in her car was burning because it remained strong no matter how far she drove.

Vallejo Fire Department spokesperson Kevin Brown said there were apparently no serious injuries related to the odor.

"From our understanding, none of them were deemed to be serious, we believe most of them were related to individuals that already have respiratory sensitivity due to asthma, that sort of thing," said Brown.

The Bay Area Air Quality District identified the source as a leak from a tanker berthed at the Phillips Petroleum Marine terminal across the channel from the city.

Phillips released a statement saying it identified the leak this morning and stated that there was no threat to the health of residents of the community. But it did not offer any other details other than to say its crews are working with the Coast Guard to contain the spill.

The Coast Guard would not go so far as to say the leak of the unknown substance was the cause of the odor, saying they are still investigating what the substance is.

Vessels were seen surrounding the vessel with containment booms and used another boom to go back and forth across the bay apparently to capture a floating "sheen" spotted near the ship.

While the shelter-in-place warning has been lifted, Vallejo fire officials say its phone lines will remain open for anyone who might smell the odor again.