Explosion sparks fire at Marathon Petroleum Refinery in Carson

Firefighters were mopping up today at the scene of afire 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.”

Carson Mayor Albert Robles scheduled an afternoon news conference to address concerns about air quality in the community in the wake of the fire.

After the fire began, all northbound and southbound lanes of the San Diego Freeway at Wilmington Avenue were blocked just after 11 p.m. due to the fire, the California Highway Patrol reported. The northbound lanes of the freeway were reopened about 11:40 p.m. and the southbound lanes reopened about midnight.

Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies and CHP officers “secured a perimeter around Marathon Refinery,” the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Carson Station tweeted just before midnight. “We are supporting efforts by (Los Angeles) County Fire & Marathon Facility Fire departments.” No evacuations were reported.

The LASD reported some streets were closed in the area.

The refinery “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.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information from officials. 

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