Fire sets off series of explosions at Philadelphia refinery

/ CBS/AP

Fire breaks out at Philadelphia oil refinery

A fire at the largest oil refinery on the East Coast turned the early morning sky a bright orange and yellow and awakened startled residents with explosions that shook homes Friday. The fire broke out at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining Complex around 4 a.m., spokeswoman Cherice Corley said.

By 9 a.m., emergency workers were still trying to control the fire, said Corley. A shelter-in-place order for nearby residents was lifted, and roads around the complex were reopened to traffic, Corley said.

There are four confirmed injuries, all minor, that were treated on site. Jonathan Triboletti saw the blaze on a freeway while heading to the airport and posted a video to Twitter of a huge fireball shooting into the sky.

Moments before the explosion pic.twitter.com/kZ7ButGVwM

— Jonathan Triboletti (@JonnyTriBBz6) June 21, 2019

Bob Braciszewski told CBS station KYW-TV he was at work nearby when he heard about the blaze. "We went out back, and we were looking at it, and as we were standing there something else blew up, … so it was kinda scary," he told the station.

Trending News

The cause of Friday's fire was still unclear late Friday morning. Corley said three explosions, felt for miles away, went off as the fire worked its way through the tangle of pipes carrying fuel across the complex.

It happened at the Girard Point refinery, one of two at the PES complex in southern Philadelphia. The company said it has not determined what exactly caught fire, but it believes it was mostly propane.

Earlier, a Philadelphia Fire Department official had said the fire started in a vat of butane. Philadelphia Energy Solutions said the 150-year-old oil refining complex produces 335,000 barrels of crude oil daily.

It was the second blaze at the refinery this month, following a June 10 fire in which no injuries were reported. Plant and city firefighters were cooling down nearby tanks to prevent the fire from spreading.

"We're here in support of the Philadelphia Energy Solution (crews)," Craig Murphy, the city's deputy fire commissioner, told a media briefing at the site. "The fire is now different from when we got here."

Thick, black smoke billowed across the city when the fire started. "The whole sky lit up yellow," Antonio Tindle told WPVI-TV. "The third explosion rocked my truck. The whole truck started to rock and it got kind of scary."

Mark Broadbent, an analyst who covers refining at Wood Mackenzie, said gas inventory is already low and the blaze "will put additional pressure on the system."

First published on June 21, 2019 / 5:42 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Fire sets off series of explosions at Philadelphia refinery

Philadelphia refinery fire turns early morning sky a bright orange and yellow, awakens startled residents

updated 15M ago

Judge allows probe over dropped charges in Jussie Smollett case

A special prosecutor would have the authority to bring new charges against the "Empire" actor if there are "reasonable grounds" to do so

updated 19M ago

Couple receives thank you for flying Pride flag

The person who wrote the letter said seeing the flag helped them come out to their family

49M ago

Dow joins S&P 500 in notching new all-time high

Buoyed by the Fed, investors shrug off concerns about an economic slowdown and ongoing trade tensions

55M ago

School defies archdiocese, refuses to fire gay teacher

The school will no longer be officially recognized as Catholic

1H ago

Democratic presidential candidates urge caution on Iran

Former Vice President Joe Biden called tensions with Iran a "self-inflicted disaster"

2H ago

Supreme Court sides with death row inmate over jury's racial makeup

The Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of a death row inmate from Mississippi

2H ago

House Intelligence to subpoena Trump associate Felix Sater

Sater worked closely with Michael Cohen on the deal to complete the Trump Tower Moscow project that was later abandoned

2H ago

Trump describes decision to pull back from striking Iran

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she received no heads up that a strike was in the works

updated 2M ago

Trump claims Latino support surging

"They don't want people coming and taking their jobs," Trump said. "They don't want criminals to come because they understand the border."

6H ago

Trump describes decision to pull back from striking Iran

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she received no heads up that a strike was in the works

updated 2M ago

250 kids allegedly face inhumane conditions at Texas border facility

Doctors and researchers say they found about 250 infants, children and teens locked up for weeks without adequate food, water and sanitation

1H ago

FAA bans U.S. airliners from Iranian airspace after drone shot down

American aviation agency's warning of "potential for miscalculation or misidentification" could have a major impact on commercial aviation

7H ago

Trump orders, then calls off limited military strike on Iran

The strike, aborted in part due to concerns among U.S. allies, would've been the most significant escalation of hostilities between the U.S. and Iran in decades

5H ago

USA beats Sweden 2-0, wins Group F

The U.S. Women are undefeated in their group matches

3H ago

Judge allows probe over dropped charges in Jussie Smollett case

A special prosecutor would have the authority to bring new charges against the "Empire" actor if there are "reasonable grounds" to do so

updated 19M ago

Highest-grossing movies of all time, ranked

What's the highest-grossing movie of all time? It might be one of your favorites

Jun 4 27 photos

Influencer allegedly planned "surprise" engagement to get sponsorships

One influencer took "do it for the gram" to a new level, by allegedly going on an engagement trip to get money from brands

1H ago

Hated science in high school? Try this podcast

Titi Shodiya and Zakiya Whatley say their bi-monthly show "Dope Labs" isn't your typical science podcast. That's because they are not your typical scientists

2H ago

Book excerpt: Dave Barry's "Lessons From Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog"

In his New York Times bestseller, the Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist writes about his faithful dog getting up in years, as he is, too

3H ago

Making "The Jetsons" a reality: The first flying, self-driving cars are coming

"A lot of us grew up watching 'The Jetsons' and thought that was far-fetched. The reality is here today"

6H ago

New Harry Potter augmented reality game released

Wands at the ready! The new Harry Potter augmented reality game is here early

1H ago

Shares in workplace software phenom Slack soar 50% in first day of trading

"I'll Slack you" is a common phrase in certain workplaces — and many are betting it will become dominant form of workplace collaboration

20H ago

City pays $600,000 to hackers who seized its computer system

Cyberattack blocked 911 dispatchers from logging calls, as a growing number of U.S. municipalities are taken hostage

Jun 20

Bitcoin price hits 1-year high on boost from Facebook's Libra plan

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts see Facebook's move into digital money as "the catalyst everyone's been looking for"

Jun 19

Nature up close: Getting rid of the lawn mower (and your lawn, too)

Instead of spending time and money to maintain a monoculture that is actually damaging to our environment, follow these suggestions on how to let your yard go wild

1H ago

Lost wallet? The more cash the likelier it'll be returned

Researchers planted more than 17,000 "lost wallets" across 355 cities in 40 countries — here's what they discovered

18H ago

Water runs out for millions in one of India's biggest cities

Reservoirs dry up after poor monsoon season, leaving residents, schools and businesses to tap dirty wells and pay for bottled water

Jun 20

Spy satellites show glaciers losing ground to climate change

Declassified spy satellite photos lead scientists to some startling conclusions

18H ago

Hundreds of dead dolphins on Gulf Coast leave scientists perplexed

Almost 300 dead and dying dolphins have washed up on the shores of four Gulf Coast states – three times the usual number

Jun 19

Planned Parenthood says Missouri will not renew license to perform abortions

"The fate of abortion access in Missouri now rests in a court's hands," Planned Parenthood said

updated 6M ago

Restaurants could be first to get genetically modified salmon

Companies like AquaBounty are ready to serve up genetically altered fish, though consumer groups urge caution

3H ago

Surgery scam involved doctor kickbacks and fake hardware

Two men join forces to expose a scheme involving sometimes unnecessary spinal fusion surgery, kickbacks to doctors and dangerous counterfeit surgical hardware implanted in some patients' bodies

5H ago

Appeals court allows Trump abortion rules to take effect

The new rules ban taxpayer-funded clinics from making abortion referrals and prohibit clinics that receive federal money from sharing office space with abortion providers

14H ago

Hospital's in utero surgery repairs baby's birth defect

Surgery was performed when the fetus was at 23 weeks gestation – the baby girl was born, healthy, three months later

22H ago

Dow joins S&P 500 in notching new all-time high

Buoyed by the Fed, investors shrug off concerns about an economic slowdown and ongoing trade tensions

55M ago

Influencer allegedly planned "surprise" engagement to get sponsorships

One influencer took "do it for the gram" to a new level, by allegedly going on an engagement trip to get money from brands

1H ago

LinkedIn CEO on developing compassion in the workplace

"In leadership, in management, it's really become a first principle," says LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner

3H ago

Restaurants could be first to get genetically modified salmon

Companies like AquaBounty are ready to serve up genetically altered fish, though consumer groups urge caution

3H ago

Why are stocks soaring while bonds signal gloom?

As the S&P 500 was setting a record high, bond yields were tumbling to their lowest levels since Trump was elected

3H ago

Judge allows probe over dropped charges in Jussie Smollett case

A special prosecutor would have the authority to bring new charges against the "Empire" actor if there are "reasonable grounds" to do so

updated 19M ago

Supreme Court sides with death row inmate over jury's racial makeup

The Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of a death row inmate from Mississippi

2H ago

Supreme Court tosses murder conviction

The Supreme Court is throwing out the murder conviction of Curtis Flowers, a black man in Mississippi, after they say a prosecutor made a conscious effort to keep African Americans off the jury. Flowers has been tried six times for the same crime.

2H ago 00:37

Ex-cop convicted of trying to help ISIS seeks reduced sentence

Lawyers for ex-D.C. Metrorail officer say he's "66.6 percent less guilty" after 2 of 3 counts against him were thrown out

6H ago

School shooter says he targeted kids who mocked his gender identity

Police document also reveals that a hired school security guard responding to the gunfire accidentally shot a female student

7H ago

NASA to land 1st woman on moon as part of Artemis mission

NASA's project aims to bring human beings back to the moon by 2024

Jun 16

NASA spots "Star Trek" Starfleet logo on Mars

Hopefully, it finds some aliens sporting Vulcan salutes next

Jun 14

Earth approaching "meteor swarm" eyed in past impact

Scientists hope to study the Taurid meteor shower closely, in hopes of better predicting the risk of a future impact

Jun 12

SpaceX launches 3 Earth-observation satellites

The three Radarsat satellites will monitor resources and the effects of climate change across Canada

Jun 12

Jupiter's largest moons visible with binoculars in June

NASA has a message for space lovers this month: Look up

Jun 11

Deadliest highway in every state

These are the highways with the highest rate of fatal crashes

21H ago 50 photos

Photographer Dave Engledow, the "World's Best Father"

He calls himself the "World's Best Father," and he's got the pictures of himself and his daughter, Alice, to prove it

Jun 16 16 photos

Forbes: World's top 20 billionaires

Forbes has updated their billionaires list, detailing the richest people around the world.

Jun 13 21 photos

Tony Awards 2019: Red carpet looks from your favorite stars

See Broadway stars walk the red carpet at Radio City Music Hall in New York City at the 73rd Annual Tony Awards

Jun 9 39 photos

Jayme Closs case: Recently released evidence photos

At Jake Patterson's sentencing hearing, prosecutors showed a select few evidence photos to the court and asked that Patterson be sentenced to life in prison for the murders of Jayme Closs' parents and the 13-year-old's kidnapping

Jun 8 14 photos

Popular

Missouri rejects Planned Parenthood's license

Missouri's state health department refused to renew the license for Planned Parenthood's clinic in St. Louis, while a judge considers whether to extend and injunction. The decision comes after the clinic refused to perform a second pelvic exam it says is unnecessary days before a procedure. CBS news correspondent Meg Oliver joined CBSN with the latest.

updated 8M ago 04:02

"Whistleblower": Exposing a surgery scheme

Two men in California have exposed one of the largest cases of fraud in the history of the state–totaling over $950 million. Tonight's episode of "Whistleblower" shows us how they discovered doctors were being paid to perform what some say were unnecessary spinal fusion surgeries. Host Alex Ferrer joined CBSN with a preview. "Whistleblower: The Billion Dollar Back Surgery Scam: Patients in Pain and Peril" airs at 8/7c on CBS.

updated 26M ago 05:27

What to stream this weekend

TV Guide senior editor Krutika Mallikarjuna joins CBSN to talk about the best shows to stream this weekend: "Grand Hotel," "Beats" and "Dark."

1H ago 08:37

Missouri rejects abortion clinic's license

Missouri has refused to renew the license for Planned Parenthood of St. Louis, the last clinic in the state that performs abortion. A judge will hear arguments today on whether to extend and injunction and keep the clinic open.

1H ago 06:03

Controversy over teacher's same-sex marriage

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis has ended its relationship with a Jesuit high school over a gay teacher's marriage. Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School said it declined the archdiocese's request to dismiss a teacher who's in a same-sex marriage. Melissa Crash of CBS affiliate WTTV reports from Indianapolis.

2H ago 02:07