Explosion Sparks Fire at Marathon Petroleum Refinery in Carson; No One Hurt

CARSON (CNS) - Firefighters were mopping up today at the scene of a fire at the Marathon Petroleum Refinery in Carson sparked by an explosion in a cooling tower.

The fire was reported at the refinery at 2350 E. 223rd St. about 10:50 p.m. Tuesday, and was largely brought under control about six hours later, although some firefighting personnel remained on scene afterward dousing hot spots.

Around daybreak, Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel -- who were sent to assist firefighters from the petroleum company -- were released from the scene. An exact knockdown time was not immediately available. No one was injured.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Authorities preliminarily announced that air quality in the area was considered safe, but residents were urged to stay inside as a precaution.

“An emergency operations center has been established, and responders are on-site ...,” Brianna Patterson of Marathon Petroleum Corp. said in a statement late Wednesday morning.

“Air monitoring is ongoing, and no risk to the community has been identified. A portion of the refinery is shut down in response to the fire. We are investigating the cause of the incident. The safety of our employees and the surrounding community is our top priority.”

After the fire began, all lanes of the San Diego (405) Freeway at Wilmington Avenue were blocked just after 11 p.m. Tuesday as a precaution, the California Highway Patrol reported. The northbound lanes of the freeway were reopened about 11:40 p.m. and the southbound lanes reopened about 20 minutes later.

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies and CHP officers secured a perimeter around the refinery, and some streets around the fire scene were closed while the firefighting effort was conducted. No evacuations were ordered.

“It's too early” to know if the fire will cause gas prices to rise, Marie Montgomery, a public relations specialist with the Automobile Club of Southern California, told City News Service.

“It depends on the extent and nature of the damage,” Montgomery said. “Los Angeles wholesale gasoline prices were briefly trading higher today but ended up just a penny higher than yesterday.”

The facility “is the largest refinery on the West Coast with a crude oil capacity of 363,000 barrels per calendar day,” according to the company's website.

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