A massive explosion has been reported from the ExxonMobil refinery located in the city of Torrance in Southern California. According to Russia Today, residents in the area confirmed that the blast caused the ground to shake and spewed tons of ash into the air. While there are no reports of any deaths caused due to the explosion, KTLA reports that four people have sustained minor injuries.
Initial reports say that the blast took place at around 8:50 a.m. local time at the refinery. The local police department have categorized the blast as a “large” and “second-alarm fire explosion.” According to the KTLA report, the primary explosion was followed by a secondary fire on the ground — which according to them was quickly contained by a team of firefighters. The ash from the explosion, however, continued to rain down on the surrounding areas covering cars and homes under a sheet of ash. Several residents who stay in the vicinity of the ExxonMobil refinery confirmed that the earth shook when the explosion took place. Many of them described the shaking similar to that of what they have experienced during an earthquake. A video captured by a local resident Jeff Coggins shows toxic smoke spewing out of the refinery shortly after the blast. He also clams that the explosion blew the doors open at his home.
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Video footage from a SKY5 News helicopter crew showed that a large structure located within the ExxonMobil refinery was damaged after the explosion. As of now, there are no reports of any casualties. Officials are, however, still evaluating if any individual is missing or is being unaccounted for. Meanwhile, a spokesperson from ExxonMobil has, in an emailed statement to KTLA, confirmed that all its employees are safe and have been accounted for.
The four people injured in the blast have been identified as contract workers who were in the ExxonMobil premises at the time of the explosion. They have been taken to the Long Beach Medical Center for treatment. The extent of their injuries have not been revealed as yet.
Meanwhile, authorities have started an investigation into the cause of this explosion at the ExxonMobil refinery, and are evaluating the extent of damage caused by it. Officials had to temporarily close a road adjacent to the refinery following the blast. It has since then been reopened. Residents living close by have been told not to use their air conditioners for the time being, a report by NBC News said.
The ExxonMobil refinery at Torrance is spread across 750 acres of land and has the capacity to produce 1.8 millions of gasoline each year.
[Image via NBC Los Angeles]