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Friday, June 30, 2000

Refinery fire disrupts Schuylkill traffic ASSOCIATED PRESS

PHILADELPHIA - A fire broke out at the Sunoco refinery in Southwest Philadelphia on Friday evening, sending smoke billowing into the air and forcing traffic off of the Schuylkill Expressway and Passyunk Avenue.

Firefighters were on the scene trying to keep the fire under control.

Sunoco spokesman Jerry Davis said he did not immediately have any details of the situation. A crisis team was on its way to the refinery, he said.

The plant, which manufactures gasoline and other products, employs about 1,000 people, Davis said.

Police officials closed part of the Schuykill Expressway eastbound as a precaution. The fire broke out at about 7:40 p.m.

Sunoco spokesman John McCann said the problem was unrelated to last week's problem at the refinery, when a crude oil processor malfunctioned, spewing a yellow-brown dust into the air for several hours. Some residents of the area complained of burning eyes and respiratory problems from the gritty material. Davis said at the time that it would cause discomfort, but was not harmful or toxic.

-- Martin Thompson (, June 30, 2000


Fire blazes at Philadelphia refinery June 30, 2000 Web posted at: 9:19 PM EDT (0119 GMT)

PHILADELPHIA (CNN) -- City firefighters and in-house crews battled a blaze at the Sunoco, Inc. refinery on the city's south side Friday night.

Security officers at the refinery would not release any details about the incident, but a recording at the plant's office of public affairs said the fire was being handled by emergency response crews and operators at the refinery.

Video shot from a helicopter showed bright orange flames shooting into the air, as black smoke billowed around the streams of water sprayed by fire trucks on the scene.

According to the company's Web site, the plant processes 330,000 barrels of crude oil per day, transforming it into gasoline, aviation fuel, kerosene, heating oil, propane and butane.

The refinery also produces the chemical cumene, which is used to manufacture plastics and synthetics.

-- Martin Thompson (, June 30, 2000.

Sunoco officials say earlier they found a leak in a pipe at one of their high octane processing units. Sun Oil Refinery fire under control PHILADELPHIA JULY 1 - It was a dangerous situation at a local refinery Friday night. There was an explosion, then raging flames and thick black smoke. The fire broke out at the Sun Oil Refinery in South Philadelphia. People who live in the area say they heard the explosion and saw flames. The fire closed the Schuylkill for 90 minutes. News 10s Cindy Hamill has the details.

THERE WERE gasoline vapors, 350 pounds of pressure, a leak then a huge explosion. I smelled something funny, said Alonzo Hicks, a witness. I look over and there was a boom. You could hear it all over. It was loud. I was really nervous, said Aaron McKinney, a witness. I was kind of scared to the point that I was telling the people in the gas station to clear out the whole area. I felt as though not only my life but their [lives] were in danger.

Sunoco officials say earlier they found a leak in a pipe at one of their high octane processing units. They were in the process of dealing with the leak and had made the decision immediately to shut the unit down, said Deputy Chief Matt McCrory, from the Philadelphia Fire Department. When they were taking steps to do that, the pipe blew open. A large fire ensued. Firefighters knew there was a problem even before they got the call. It shook the window in the firehouse, said John McCann, from Sunoco. There was no question that there was a significant explosion in the area.

Once firefighters were on the scene, they surrounded the unit with water to keep the fire contained and let it burn itself out. The huge billow of black smoke filled the neighborhood, but Sunoco says neighbors were never in any danger.

Whatever was in the air was pretty much consumed before it hit the fence line and got into the community, McCrory said. One Sun worker and one firefighter were hurt. Their injuries were not serious

-- Martin Thompson (, July 01, 2000.

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