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Fire on oil plant tower burns itself out

Posted on by SST

A fire at a Shafter, Calif., liquid petroleum gas plant on Wednesday, Oct. 2 turned out to be a complex job for Kern County Firefighters.

The responders were en route to a vehicle accident scene that afternoon when they noticed black smoke coming from a 100-foot-tall heating tower on the Plains LPG grounds. Flames were protruding 30 to 50 feet in the air when responders arrived, reported ABC's Bakersfield affiliate.

The city of Shafter, located in central California, is about 20 miles northwest of Bakersfield. Six fire engines and 35 crew members from the county fire station responded to the fire, reads their website.

Faced with complexity due to the height and size of the blaze, firefighters initiated a 2-alarm response.

Plains All American Pipeline, an indirect subsidiary of Plains Midstream Canada, operates the facility. The Shafter plant, known as the Lone Star Processing Facility, handles propane, isobutane, normal butane, and natural gas products, reads the company website.

Burning at the plant was an oil used in the production process. Crews informed responders that they were able to cut flow to the tower, removing the fire's fuel. Rather than initiate fire suppression techniques, firefighters decided to let the remaining product burn and focus their efforts on protecting nearby equipment. Surrounding areas were cooled with a stream of water.

After about an hour, the fire had burned itself out. There were no injuries and no evacuations, Kern County Fire spokesmen Cory Wilford told the Bakersfield Californian. A power surge is believed to have caused the fire.

Employees were then permitted to return to the facility and work with firefighters to resume the plant's operations.

Industrial Safety News brought to you by Safety Systems Technology, Inc., leaders in fire and gas detection.

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