Not all of the 245,000 barrel-per-day plant, which accounts for one-eighth of California's refining capacity, appears to have been shut down, despite local media reports suggesting the sprawling facility had been idled.
"We are still continuing to operate," spokesman Brent Tippen told Reuters, adding that he could not yet provide details on which specific parts were running.
With the crude distillation unit that apparently triggered the blaze believed to have shut earlier, it is unclear how long secondary units -- which rely on feed from the CDU to produce finished fuel like gasoline -- can keep running.
Trade sources who saw images of the 40-foot flames that burned for hours feared the closure could last up to three months, although other experts said it was too early to say.
"It's hard to judge the damage. There is a lot of volatile material there and so looks can be deceptive," said John Auers, a refinery specialist with Houston-based consultants Turner Mason. "If there is no major damage to the units, it could be a matter of days before it returns."
Below, CNBC's Sharon Epperson reports on the potential impact the fire at Chevron's California refinery could have on gas prices.
Intellpuke: This article is a compilation of reporting by NBC News, Reuters and Associated Press correspondents, reporting from Richmond, California; you can read it in context here: bottomline.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/07/13164449-calif-refinery-fire-should-raise-west-coast-gas-prices?lite