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Large explosion at LA refinery prompts fire

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The Torrance Fire Department responded to an explosion at the ExxonMobile Refinery on Feb. 18, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

LOS ANGELES – A “large explosion” was reported at the ExxonMobil Refinery in Torrance, Calif. Wednesday morning and residents reported feeling the ground shake, firefighters said.

The refinery “experienced an incident at approximately 8:50 a.m.,” ExxonMobil spokesperson Gesuina Paras told KTLA. Emergency procedures at the refinery were activated, according to Paras, adding that “employees are working with the appropriate agencies.”

A blast at the refinery, located in the 3700 block of West 190th Street (map), was described as a “large” and “second-alarm fire” explosion, according to the Torrance Police Department.

Several KTLA viewers reported the shaking felt like an earthquake-type motion. Video from the surrounding area showed ash raining down, while the grayish-tinged soot was also seen in photos covering vehicles.

The refinery has activated its flare system, and flames and smoke would be visible in surrounding areas, Torrance fire Capt. Steve Deuel said.

It was not immediately clear whether anyone was injured or missing. One structure, however, appeared to have been damaged, aerial video over the scene showed.

Paras said the refinery was still “accounting for all personnel.” The cause of the incident, as well as the occurrence and amount of any damages, was also being evaluated.

The incident prompted police to temporarily shut down Del Amo Boulevard between Maple Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard.

Air quality readings were within the normal range and an air quality warning has not been issued, officials said.

Schools in the area were initially told to shelter in place, but that was no longer the case with each campus, according to Tammy Khan with the Torrance Unified School District. A list of schools where the warning was in place has not been released.

The refinery covers roughly 750 acres, according to Exxon Mobil Corporation. It processes an average of 155,000 barrels of crude oil per day and produces 1.8 million gallons of gasoline each year.

KTLA’s Jennifer Thang contributed to this report.

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