Truck explodes, sparks fire at refinery in U.S. state of Texas

08:11, May 06, 2010      

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A massive fire broke out on Wednesday at a fuel refinery in south of downtown San Antonio, Texas when an 18-wheeler exploded.

Black plumes of smoke were visible across the city's skyline. The fire started just after 11 a.m. at AGE Refining , which is located at 7811 S. Presa St., just south of downtown.

Firefighters have created a half-mile evacuation zone around the refinery, San Antonio Fire Department Chief Charles Hood told reporters at an early-afternoon news conference.

More than 100 firefighters and scores of police officers were at the scene and in the surrounding perimeter, Hood said.

One person remained missing and at least two people were confirmed as injured following the blast which continues in the afternoon. Hood warned people with respiratory issues to remain indoors to try to avoid exposure to the smoke.

The fire was mostly extinguished at about 4 p.m., a couple of hours after a Hazardous Materials team and a Technical Rescue team moved into the building and shut off valves that stopped the flow of fuel that were feeding a continuous fire.

Fire crews also put water on fuel tanks to cool them off to prevent further explosions.

Residents living within a half-mile radius were evacuated. Temporary shelters were opened for families living near the explosion at a Home Depot. Roads within a one-mile radius were closed off to traffic.

AGE Refining, based in San Antonio, Texas, manufactures, refines and markets jet fuel, diesel, solvents and other specialized fuel. It supplies fuel to the U.S. Department of Defense. It recently won an 84-million-dollar contract with the Defense Energy Support Center two weeks ago.

The storage and distribution system of AGE refinery includes a tank farm of 162 tanks ranging in capacity from 40 to 10,000 barrels, two additive blend systems, a tank car loading facility and two transport loading systems.

AGE Refining is now the third San Antonio-based company to suffer a fire at one of its refineries recently.

Last month, four people were killed in a fire at a refinery located near Seattle that is owned by Tesoro Corp., which, headquartered in San Antonio, operates seven refineries in the western United States with a combined capacity of approximately 665,000 barrels per day.

Last week, a fire broke out at a refinery in downtown Memphis that is owned by Valero Energy Corp., which, also headquartered in San Antonio, owns and operates 18 refineries throughout the U. S., Canada and the Caribbean with a combined capacity of approximately 3.3 million barrels per day, making it the largest refiner in North America.



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