A fire that broke out early Friday morning at an an oil refinery in Southwest Philadelphia triggered an enormous explosion that could reportedly be felt by residents as far as southern New Jersey. The blaze began just after 4 a.m. at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions facility, which is the largest oil refining complex on the East Coast, producing 335,000 barrels of crude oil daily.
Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy told NBC 10 News that the fire began when a vat of butane ignited and eventually exploded. A series of smaller explosions then began to erupt as the fire worked its way through the tangle of pipes carrying fuel across the complex. Incredibly, no one was seriously injured in the blast that sent debris flying for blocks — raining down on streets and traffic lights.
Emergency management officials sounded early warning sirens at 5:30 a.m. and asked people east of the fire to shelter in place. That order was later lifted around 7 a.m. as fire crews were able to contain the flames to the general vat area.
As news of the explosion began to make its way around social media, bystanders and reporters at the scene began sharing video footage of the incredible blast, which lit up the sky in a mushroom-shaped cloud.
Although there were thankfully no casualties, the economic impact of the explosion of the 150 year old facility (which opened one year after the civil war ended) could be disastrous, as gas prices began climbing within hours of the incident.
(Via NBC 10)