Blast hits Southern California refinery

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

TORRANCE, Calif. (AP) — An explosion occurred Wednesday at an Exxon Mobil refinery in Southern California, triggering a very large smokestack flare to burn off flammable product, authorities said.

Roads were closed after the incident shortly before 9 a.m. and ash was in the air, Torrance police Sgt. Paul Kranke said.

The blast happened in a processing facility and the material involved was most likely gasoline, Fire Department spokesman Steve Deuel told KCBS-TV.

A small ground fire was quickly extinguished and the facility's flare system was triggered for safety reasons, Deuel said.

There were two minor injuries and neither person was hospitalized, he said.

TV news helicopters showed a structure several stories tall with damage.

Exxon Mobil spokesman Todd Spitler said the cause of the explosion was under investigation and company officials were working with local agencies.

The Police Department told the community it was not necessary to take shelter.

The refinery about 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles covers 750 acres, employs over a thousand people, and processes an average of 155,000 barrels of crude oil per day, according to the company.