Crews quickly smother fire at oil refinery near Los Angeles

A fire that erupted at the largest oil refinery on the West Coast threatened storage tanks while sending huge flames into the sky and black smoke across California neighborhoods before crews quickly smothered it.

Dozens of firefighters responded late Tuesday to the 1,000-acre Chevron El Segundo Refinery just south of Los Angeles, which processes nearly 275,000 barrels of crude oil a day.

Nearby residents were urged to close windows and stay inside. Streets were briefly closed, but no evacuations were ordered and no injuries were reported.

Crews using firefighting foam kept the blaze from spreading to storage tanks. Within a half-hour, few flames were visible.

The fire did not burn near any of the facility's main processing units and was confined to a distribution manifold along the facility's southwestern perimeter, Chevron spokesman Braden Reddall said in a statement. The cause was under investigation, he said.

"At this point, Chevron does not expect this incident to have an impact on its ability to supply petroleum products to its customers in the region," the statement said.

Petroleum industry analyst Patrick DeHaan said initial information indicates the fire was unlikely to affect gas prices.

DeHaan, a senior analyst with GasBuddy, said the El Segundo facility was not running at full capacity at the time of the fire because it had shuttered most operations for semi-annual preventative maintenance.

Chevron was fined nearly $1 million by the state of California for a major fire in 2012 at a refinery in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The El Segundo refinery supplies 40 percent of the jet fuel used at nearby Los Angeles International Airport and has 20 percent of the market for gasoline in Southern California, according the company's website.

Daily production includes 110,000 barrels of gasoline and 100,000 barrels of jet and diesel fuels. Other products include fuel oils, coke and liquefied petroleum gas.

About 1,100 Chevron employees and 300 contract employees work at the refinery.

The facility dates to 1911 and was the second refinery built in California by Chevron predecessor Standard Oil Co.


Associated Press writers John Antczak and Andrew Dalton contributed to this report.


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This story has been corrected to show that the facility processes 275,000 barrels, not gallons, per day.