Explosions confirmed at refinery in Pasadena

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December 9, 2011 10:00:00 PM PST
Two confirmed explosions at a refinery prompted a temporary shelter in place for Pasadena residents Saturday evening.

The explosions that sent dozens of emergency workers rushing to Pasadena Refinery Systems Inc. off Red Bluff Rd. could be heard for miles and scared residents around the area.

Investigators tell us the problem started around 7pm after a fire in the plant's coker unit. There was one explosion. Within minutes, witnesses say there was a larger secondary explosion.

Manny Garcia is a contractor who says he was inside the plant when the first blast happened. He one of many workers who were forced to evacuate.

"We came out of the office because they called us and say, 'Hey evacuate the office.' And we looked back and there was orange, all, you know, the sky pretty much got orange," Garcia said. "I was inside the car when that second blast happened, and you could actually start feeling stuff landing on top of you."

A shelter in place was ordered for residents north of Southmore to the Ship Channel. It was lifted just before 8:30pm.

One worker was transported with burns to his arm. He is expected to be OK. Officials said they are investigating this as a structure fire. It's still not clear what started the blaze or caused the explosions.

PRSI is an independent refiner and marketer of petroleum products. There was another fire at the plant in September. At that time, workers told us fire in the crude unit caused a lot of steam and thick black smoke.

Please stay with Eyewitness News for more information as it becomes available.

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