UTAH - Fiery Mishap at Refinery, No Injuries...Second Such Blaze in a Month

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Title: Fiery mishap at refinery

No one injured in second such blaze in a month

By Brady Snyder

Deseret News staff writer

A petroleum fire at Salt Lake's BP Amoco refinery sent a thick plume of black smoke into Monday afternoon's clear, blue sky while fire crews scrambled to account for employees and extinguish the flames.

Flames and smoke pour out of stack at BP Amoco refinery. Gasoline may have leaked into a furnace.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News A roll call after the 4:20 p.m. blaze turned up no one missing or injured but an undetermined amount of damage to the refinery, 474 W. 900 North. It was the second such refinery fire in a month.

"It's really too soon to tell," plant operations manager Matthew Baebler said. "Damage could be $5 or it could be much higher. We don't know yet."

Baebler said the thick smoke that spewed from the stack should cause no major environmental hazard, but company officials will conduct a full investigation.

Part of the investigation will determine the fire's precise cause, but Baebler speculated it started when gasoline leaked into an ultraformer furnace  an area that changes low-octane petroleum into high-octane fuel. The gas mixed with furnace fire and sent huge flames out a refinery smokestack.

Salt Lake Fire Capt. Devin Villa said putting out the fire was as simple as shutting off the leaking gas line and letting the fire burn itself out.

As a precaution, fire crews also doused the smokestack with 400 gallons of water per minute in an effort to cool the area and keep flames from spreading. Two fire engines from the city and two from BP Amoco's on-site fire crew worked for about 25 minutes before the blaze was called "under control." BP Amoco and city firefighters routinely combine fire drills, Villa said.

The plant was briefly shut down during the fire. Besides the two employees working near the furnace, no personnel were in real danger, and the refinery, sans the ultraformer, was back to full operation shortly, Baebler said.

Monday's blaze comes on the heels of a St. Patrick's Day refinery fire that gutted half of a $1 million loading dock at Flying J Inc., 333 W. Center St., North Salt Lake.

Both Villa and Baebler, who is also a member of BP Amoco's fire crew, said it is coincidence that the two fires occurred within such proximity.

"It's the first fire we've had in a number of years, probably eight or 10 years," Baebler said. http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,155015268,00.html?


-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), April 04, 2000

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