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June 21, 2019

Philadelphia oil refinery explosion causes massive fireball and 3-alarm blaze

The fire occurred at Philadelphia Energy Solutions in Southwest. Officials say no employees were injured; it is the second fire at facility this month

Emergencies Fires
0621_Oil fire Screenshot/NBC10 Philadelphia

An explosion erupted at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining Complex on Friday, June 21, 2019. No one was reportedly injured, but it resulted in a three-alarm fire. And the explosion shook homes in the surrounding neighborhood, Delaware County and South Jersey.

Firefighters were called to the Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining Complex in Southwest Philly around 4 a.m. Friday after a vat of butane reportedly exploded causing a large fire.

Firefighters have contained the three-alarm blaze at the 150-year refinery complex, however it was not under control as of 7 a.m., according to the Philadelphia Fire Department's Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy. No injuries or evacuations have been reported. 

MORE: Refinery explosion poses no 'immediate danger' to Philly residents, city health dept. says

Murphy said the fire was "substantially different than when we got here," and that the city's firefighters were working with Philadelphia Energy Solutions to make sure the flames did not spread. 

Commuters reported seeing large flames light up the sky around 4 a.m. from the Schuylkill Expressway and in South Philly. NBC10 reported that homes as far as South Jersey felt the explosion.

The Philadelphia Fire Department had put out a shelter in place warning for nearby residents and businesses east of the fire, which occurred in the vacinity of  31st Street and Passyunk Avenue, as precaution due to smoke plume, according to the Office of Emergency Management.

By 7 a.m. that warning had been lifted. The office also said refinery officials found "no detectable inhalants."

Multiple SEPTA bus routes have been detoured Friday morning.

The cause of the fire is still unclear.

Philadelphia Energy Solutions' two adjacent refineries at Girard Point and Point Breeze refine 335,000 barrels of crude oil every day, according to the company's website. The complex says it's the largest on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.

This is the second fire this month at the Philadelphia Energy Complex. A much smaller fire occurred there on June 10. It sent up a plume of black smoke that was visible in part of Southwest and South Philly, and it was quickly contained.

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