Thirty years after an epic refinery fire made industrial emergency history, Baton Rouge was again the scene of a refinery fire characterized by local media as "significant."
Firefighters declared the fire out at 6:40 a.m. Wednesday morning, nearly seven hours after it ignited.
Curt Monte, public information officer for the Baton Rouge Fire Department, said in a television interview that the in-house fire brigade at the ExxonMobil refinery extinguished the fire without outside assistance.
"They handled the suppression part inside the facility," Monte said. "They didn’t need our assistance to do that. They did a great job. Had it contained very quickly."
No injuries related to the fire were reported. Air quality monitoring detected no hazardous materials leaving the refinery property.
Other than to report that the fire took place within one of the refinery’s processing units, ExxonMobil has released no further details about the nature of the emergency.
"During last night’s incident, our volunteer fire team members responded quickly and safely to control and extinguish the fire," the refinery's Facebook page reports. "We were also in contact with Baton Rouge Fire Department on the situation and if needed, could coordinate additional responders."
More than 300 responders drawn from multiple ExxonMobil operations in the Baton Rouge area were on hand during the emergency, the Facebook page states.
Flaring to burn off dangerous gasses and relieve mounting pressure cause by the interruption in the refining process was visible at the refinery today.
ExxonMobil's Baton Rouge refinery in Baton Rouge is the fifth-largest oil refinery in the United States and ranks at the 13th largest in the world with an input capacity of 502,000 barrels per day. The refinery celebrated its centennial in 2019.
A devastating explosion and fire at the ExxonMobil refinery on Christmas Eve 1989 still ranks as one of the worst industrial accident in U.S. history. The blast ignited 16 storage tanks, three buildings and two process units. Also burning was a ground spill covering nearly 12 acres.
Working in near freezing temperatures, the refinery firefighters, joined by responders from other refineries, municipal responders and contract firefighters specializing in storage tank emergencies, extinguished the burning facility within 15 hour.