A massive explosion ripped through the largest oil refinery plant on the West Coast in the overnight hours, sending giant fireballs into the sky, visible from 20 miles away.
Fire crews on Tuesday night were dispatched to the Marathon Petroleum Corporation’s refinery in Carson, California, around 10:50 pm PST for reports of an explosion in a cooling tower.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department (LAFD) said the fire was contained hours later in the early hours on Wednesday morning.
#MarathonIC *UPDATE* Firefighters continue to make progress reducing the size of this fire, while providing protection to exposures. Residual pressure from remaining flammable gas is still contributing to limited fire activity. Engineers continue work to isolate fuel sources. pic.twitter.com/qVmZiA0sQW
— L.A. County Fire Department (@LACoFDPIO) February 26, 2020
Pricilla Reyes, a resident of Carson, told NBC Los Angeles that she heard multiple explosions at the plant before the fire broke out.
NBC Los Angeles’ photographer Kenny Holmes said the fire was visible from 22 miles away in Santa Monica.
LAFD said fire crews worked with refinery personnel to keep the flames in check via “fixed ground monitors” while working to depressurize the system.
LAFD said there was no need for a community evacuation considering the fire was contained.
The refinery is the largest on the West Coast, processing upwards of 363,000 barrels per day. The plant processes crude to make gasoline and diesel fuel, along with distillates, petroleum coke, anode-grade coke, chemical-grade propylene, fuel-grade coke, heavy fuel oil, and propane.
There was no word via Marathon or any other authorities if supply disruptions would be seen thanks to the incident.
Dramatic video of fireballs lighting up Carson’s sky was captured on Twitter.
Los Angeles Carson refinery is on fire@cnn pic.twitter.com/qFX6WCQHgB
— Brian Hayes (@brianhayesnyc) February 26, 2020
At some point all the flames from the Carson refinery were lit. pic.twitter.com/4sxtsMKvYx
— Juliet Alvarez Ixta (@JulietIxta) February 26, 2020
#BREAKING OVERNIGHT WHILE YOU SLEEPING: Authorities are responding to the Marathon Refinery in Carson, CA after an apparent explosion at the facility. @CitizenAppLA, @ABC7, @NBCLA, @CBSLA, @FOXLA + @BreakingNAgency pic.twitter.com/6EupeFrrfK
— Marcel Myrick (@AfterDarkMarcel) February 26, 2020
One Twitter handle said the incident forced LAFD to close northbound lanes of the 405 Freeway for approximately 30 minutes while crews battled the fire.
Hope everyone is okay. Scary fire erupted in Carson off the 405 😱😳 Cops are closing off the freeway SB pic.twitter.com/YMnM5idpuX
— Chynna (@ChynnaRaymundo) February 26, 2020
Helicopter video from NBC Los Angeles captures an impressive video of the incident.
WATCH LIVE: The 405 Freeway is completely shut down in Carson due to a large refinery fire, and a viewer said he felt an explosion as far away as Bellflower. https://t.co/89JCtADUZW pic.twitter.com/arhvQteTnJ
— NBC Los Angeles (@NBCLA) February 26, 2020
The incident comes as WTI tumbles into a bear market, down -25% in the last 33 sessions, mostly due to a demand shock from China after the Covid-19 outbreak shut down two-thirds of its economy.