RODEO, Calif. -- Alarms rang through Rodeo and Crockett Tuesday night-- an eerie after-effect of the mid-afternoon explosion at nearby NuStar.
"The boom was so hard, the doors opened themselves. That's what made us think we were another earthquake experiencing because the rattling was so strong from the explosion," said T.T. Alexander, who lives and works in Rodeo within a mile or two of NuStar's fuel storage facility.
VIDEO: Explosion at NuStar Energy facility caught on camera
"I'm scared! I wanna go, I'm not used to this - just to see what we're inhaling, I don't know, not used to it," exclaimed Alexander.
Contra Costa County's warning system issued a shelter in place for the communities of Rodeo, Crockett, and North Hercules.
"I heard to stay indoors, make sure everything is covered, all the windows are locked," said Rodney Watson, who was at a Rodeo Safeway renting movies-- a distraction for his family while they shelter in place after a frightening day.
RELATED: Contra Costa County Fire: Fire contained at NuStar energy facility in Crockett near Rodeo
"It rocked my windows really loud and I thought it was an earthquake at first, similar to what happened last night," said Watson.
As if the fire and explosion weren't nightmare enough, the traffic added another layer of torture. With I-80 closed, cars were crawling at best on surface streets through Contra Costa County.
"It was supposed to be a 15-minute drive," said Julianne Spence, who said her commute through the East Bay was two and a half hours."
RELATED: Before and After: Birds eye view of NuStar energy facility in the East Bay
Irma Villagomez-Miranda lives in Pinole and came out to observe the jam of cars and a black plume of smoke in front of her Pinole home.
"It does make me nervous. It was just like too much. The earthquake yesterday and then now this, and the fires. It's just a lot. What happened to the California when I was a kid?"
Get the latest on the fire at NuStar Energy in Crockett here.