A massive fire erupted at a crude oil refinery in Philadelphia on Friday morning, triggering several explosions and sending flames high into the sky.
It was not immediately clear how the fire started, but a spokeswoman for the company said the substance that is burning is believed to be mostly propane. Fire officials said earlier that it was a vat of butane that had caught fire.
Philadelphia Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy said during a morning news conference that the fire is contained inside a vat and the Philadelphia Fire Department is supporting Philadelphia Energy Solutions emergency responders to ensure the fire does not spread.
“This is going to be a long operation,” he said. “It’s confined, and it’s being addressed, but it is not under control.”
Philadelphia Energy Solutions spokeswoman Cherice Corley said in a statement that there were three separate explosions on an alkylation unit.
Four people suffered minor injuries but all were treated at the scene, Corley said.
The fire commissioner said an initial shelter-in-place request has been lifted after Philadelphia Energy Solutions sent an industrial hygienist to test the air and the readings were normal.
Regarding this morning's PES fire:— Philadelphia Department of Public Health (@PHLPublicHealth) June 21, 2019
Air Management Services was on-scene immediately and took air samples. Preliminary testing at the refinery, and in the community around, found no ambient carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons (combustibles), or hydrogen sulfides.
The Health Department has no findings that would point to any immediate danger in the surrounding community at this time, and the City is NOT recommending evacuation or shelter-in-place.— Philadelphia Department of Public Health (@PHLPublicHealth) June 21, 2019
Philadelphia Energy Solutions said that the refinery complex is running “at a reduced rate.”
The Associated Press reported that this is the second fire at the refinery in the past month.
This is a developing story and will be updated.