Category Archives: Refinery fire

“It sounded like a bomb went off”: Residents react after White Lake refinery explosion

[Note from BenIndy: Another day, another refinery explosion. Take  a minute to review the drone footage available below. Particularly striking in this article was the resident quoted as admitting that she and many of her neighbors were unaware that they lived in close proximity to a refinery. This is not uncommon in refinery towns, including Benicia. What if there had been an urgent need to evacuate nearby residential neighborhoods? Situations like this demonstrate just how important clear, timely, and accurate communication between industrial/corporate interests, local government, local media, and the general public is to protecting the health and safety of refinery-town residents. An informed and engaged community is a safer and healthier community.]

CBS Detroit, by Luke Laster, November 26, 2023

WHITE LAKE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) – White Lake police and township fire officials are working to discover the cause of an explosion at a refinery plant in White Lake Friday night.

It happened shortly before 10:30 p.m. in the area of Young Road and Bogie Lake Road.

It took a few hours before crews put it out, and White Lake Township’s fire chief, John Holland, says they don’t yet know what caused the flames.

“Everything shook. I was afraid. I didn’t know what the heck was happening,” says White Lake resident Chelsea Vanhorn.

Vanhorn lives in Cedarbrook Estates, a mobile home park just over a mile away from the fossil fuel recovery plant owned and operated by Hound Resources.

“My plants fell off my shelves. I thought we got bombed,” Vanhorn said.

Following what Vanhorn said was the explosion that shook her home, other residents of the mobile home park found themselves outside with their phones rolling around 10:30 p.m. Friday. It was then that she caught a second explosion on camera.

She says she didn’t even know a refinery was nearby. Many of her neighbors didn’t know either.

“We all go down by the clubhouse, you know. Try to follow it to see what it is, and it was a huge fire. The biggest fire I’ve seen. It was huge and the blackest smoke. It was so black. It was very scary,” Vanhorn said.

An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Ohio firefighters battle massive flames in containing oil refinery fire

[Note from BenIndy: Once again, from one refinery town another, Benicia surely empathizes and sympathizes with those impacted by this large refinery fire in Ohio that took 75 firefighters to contain. Impacts to nearby soil and waterways are currently under investigation. Remember, according to the WSJ, there ‘hasn’t been a major new oil refinery built in the U.S. since the 1970s, and many plants are more than 100 years old.’ That same article linked above also notes that, according to the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, ‘2021 was the worst year for serious incidents at U.S. refineries since 2015, measured by hours worked, with the rate of so-called process-safety events 25% higher than in 2019 and 2020.’  As refineries continue to deteriorate, the rate of serious incidents seems likely to increase.]

November 22, 2023 

COLUMBUS — Ohio firefighters battled an oil refinery fire for several hours Tuesday night.

Columbus firefighters were dispatched just after 8 p.m. to GFL Columbus Refinery across from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and were put out after 10 p.m., according to our news partner WBNS in Columbus.

It is also located near John Glenn Columbus International Airport.

Firefighters had to deal with massive flames when they arrived at the scene.

Whitehall Division of Fire provided mutual aid and posted videos and photos of the fire on its social media page.

Columbus Fire Battalion Chief Jeffrey Geitter told WBNS crews worked to keep other surrounding tanks cool to keep the fire from spreading.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Massive fire at refinery in Crockett sends flames, black smoke into air

Massive fire at refinery in Crockett sends flames, black smoke into air

SFGATE, by Katie Dowd, Tuesday, October 15, 2019, 3:33 pm PDT
[BenIndy Editor: Alert Solano sent out this message by text and email at 3:27pm today.:  “Benicia Fire Department is currently monitoring the fire at the Nustar Refinery in the Crockett area of Contra Costa County. We are monitoring the air quality in town. As of this time, there are no impacts to Benicia from this incident. We will provide updates as more information becomes available.”  – R.S.]
A fire in Crockett sent flames and black smoke into the Bay Area on Oct. 15, 2019. Photo KTVU

A massive fire has broken out at a NuStar Energy facility in Crockett, sending plumes of flame and thick black smoke into the air on Tuesday afternoon.

The Vallejo Fire Department confirmed to KTVU the fire started in the NuStar Energy storage tanks on San Pablo Ave. Television reports indicate there may have been an explosion as well.

Aerial footage shows at least two storage tanks appear to be fully engulfed. The hills behind the tanks, which are golden with dry grass, have also caught fire. An airplane is currently conducting air drops on the hills.

A video posted to YouTube shows the top of one of the storage tanks being flung into the air as the fire rages.

Nearby residents in Crockett, Hercules and Rodeo should shelter in place and keep their windows closed, as the black smoke could contain contaminants that are hazardous to those with lung problems.

“Go inside, and close all windows and doors. Turn off all heaters, air conditioners, and fans,” cautioned the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office. “Unless you are using your fireplace, close your fireplace dampers and vents. Cover any cracks around doors or windows with tape or damp towels.”

HEADS UP, COMMUTERS: The NuStar fire has closed I-80

NuStar Energy L.P. is a San Antonio-based company that bills itself as “one of the largest independent liquids terminal and pipeline operators in the nation.” Contra Costa County District One Supervisor John Gioia said on KTVU that their tanks “store products for local refineries.”

“There was an explosion there,” Gioia said. “A couple tanks are on fire.”

A Phillips 66 refinery is located next door, but does not appear to have incurred any damage.

The cause of the explosion and fire are still unknown. No injuries have yet been reported.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated when more information becomes available.

Katie Dowd is an SFGATE Senior Digital Manager.