Fire at Delaware City refinery contained, cause remains unknown

The cause of the fire at the Delaware City refinery is still unknown. State Sen. Nicole Poore says no one was injured in the blaze. (John Jankowski for WHYY)

The cause of the fire at the Delaware City refinery is still unknown. State Sen. Nicole Poore says no one was injured in the blaze. (John Jankowski for WHYY)

Updated 9:00 p.m.

A large fire that broke out Sunday morning at the Delaware City oil refinery has been contained.

By 6 p.m., several fire companies at the scene had the fire, which started in the refinery’s crude unit, under control, according to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

Members of DNREC’s emergency response unit are on the scene assessing the air quality impact.

“DNREC air monitors up to six miles away from the refinery at the height of the fire were getting ‘non-detect’ readings for hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide — the pollutants of greatest concern, given where the fire originated (the crude unit), and what was fueling it,” DNREC spokesman Michael Gobletti said in an email.

There is no immediate danger to the public, said state Sen. Nicole Poore.

The cause of the fire is still unclear.

“As negative as this is right now, there are some positives,” Poore said. “No one has been injured due to the crude fire.”

A firefighter from New Castle County who responded to the incident is being treated for a non-fire-related medical condition, said Lisa Lindsey, the public information officer for PBF Energy, which owns the refinery.

Poore said many constituents reached out to her about the fire, which sent a plume of black smoke across the New Castle County region. The smoke could be seen from miles away, according to Delaware Online.

Fire companies said residents as far away as Newark and Wilmington are complaining about the smoke, which is moving north, and the smell of chemicals. Some residents said the fire smelled like burning rubber, according to Delaware Online.

Delaware State Police closed off the perimeter of the refinery, which includes a section of state routes 9 and 72.

This is not the first fire at the refinery. This past October, a minor explosion left three workers burned with one in critical condition.

Last year, the refinery paid $200,000 to DNREC for violating a crude oil transport order and pollution release limits.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the fire was under control around 6 p.m. and that members of DNREC’s emergency response unit are on the scene assessing the air quality impact.

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