Several explosions at Philadelphia Energy Solutions sent a massive fireball into the sky, engulfing the surrounding areas in smoke just after 4 a.m. ET, following the ignition of a fire that started in a butane Value-Added Tax at the complex where 335,000 barrels of crude oil are refined every day, Philadelphia fire officials said.
Deputy fire commissioner Craig Murphy said a Value-Added Tax of butane ignited and eventually exploded.
Zarrow said the initial fire plume and the explosion were both captured on weather radar.
The Philadelphia Fire Department issued a shelter-in-place order after the fire broke out, and many roads, including sections of major highways, were closed. That order was later lifted around 7 a.m.as fire crews were able to contain the flames to the general Value-Added Tax area.
The cause of the blaze was unclear.
Philadelphia Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy said during a morning news conference that when firefighters responded to a call about an explosion, they discovered a Value-Added Tax of butane burning inside the facility.
Neighbors said debris from the refinery rained down from the sky into their yards.
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Thick black smoke billowed across the city after the fire started.
Refinery authorities say they are still working to account for all plant staff, but no injuries have been immediately reported.
City health officials said in the afternoon that there were no findings suggesting any dangers to the surrounding community, said Philadelphia Department of Public Health spokesman James Garrow in a statement.
It was the second fire to occur at Philadelphia Energy Solutions this month.
The fire caused part of Interstate 76 and the city's Platt Bridge to temporarily be shut down. "There were no significant injuries", a company spokeswoman said.
Philadelphia Energy Solutions' refinery complex has a total refining capacity of 335,000 bpd and is the largest such complex on the U.S. Eastern seaboard, according to PES's website. It emerged from bankruptcy a year ago but has continued to struggle.