Fire at Nation’s Third Largest Oil Refinery

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The third largest refinery in the country went up in flames. The catastrophic fire is still burning for a second day but is mostly contained. The air quality isn’t a problem so far.

The  Louisiana refinery sits on the banks of the Mississippi River. Marathon Petroleum Corporation said the fire is contained to the refinery’s property, and one firefighter was evaluated for heat stress. No one else was injured.

The “tank itself is not on fire,” said Justin Lawrence, human resources manager for Marathon, at a Friday news conference, adding the fire is around the perimeter of a tank.

“The product in the tank is a naphtha product, which is partially refined product that we use it as … components to make gasoline,” Lawrence said. “The tank itself is not on fire; it is the product surrounding the tank.”

“Initially, it was kind of a lazy flame, and we were putting foam on it to keep the fumes and the fire down to keep it contained,” Lawrence explained. “As it picks up and this morning as the day gets hotter, it did reignite, and there have been spots where it is harder to control.”

A chemical leak caused the problem.

Emergency crews fought the 7 a.m. blaze throughout the morning. The plant reportedly confirmed that naphtha, a flammable hazardous substance associated with crude oil, had leaked into the air while a storage tank burned.

It forced a two-mile evacuation.


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