Four workers had minor injuries Wednesday after a large explosion at an ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance that left ash cascading to the ground and South Bay residents briefly wondering if an earthquake had hit.
The blast at the refinery, which is located in the 3700 block of West 190th Street (map), occurred around 8:50 a.m.
It caused a small blaze on the ground that was quickly extinguished by some four dozen firefighters from Torrance and neighboring beach cities. Meanwhile, the refinery’s flare system sent flames shooting hundreds of feet into the air as a safety measure, Torrance Fire Department Capt. Steve Deuel said.
“There was an activation of their flare system, which is a safety feature where you see a large column of black smoke, big flame in the sky. It’s like a safety valve,” Deuel said. “They typically will take the product that’s involved … and route it up the stack and burn it off.”
The fire occurred in a gasoline processing unit and was believed to have involved gasoline, Deuel said. Hours after the flames were out, it remained unclear what caused the explosion.
Air quality was within normal range, Torrance police said, but the South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory due to smoke and ash from the explosion. Residents...
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