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Fires flare out of stacks at BP refinery in Northwest Indiana

Power outage prompts evacuation at BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana
Power outage prompts evacuation at BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana 00:55

UPDATE:  BP issued an update on Friday morning:

Power has been restored to BP's Whiting refinery following an outage that disrupted operations on the afternoon of Thursday, February 1. Operations have been stabilized at the refinery, and roads have reopened. Air monitoring continues, and no elevated readings have been recorded.  No injuries have been reported.   

WHITING, Ind. (CBS) -- A series of smokestack fires erupted at the BP refinery in Whiting after a power outage on Thursday afternoon. 

Smokestack fires erupt at BP refinery in Indiana by CBS Chicago on YouTube

Video posted on social media showed several stacks erupting with flames and plumes of black smoke. The video showed that the flames were contained to the top of the stacks. 

The City of Whiting said the flames were intentional due to the power failure. 

City officials said the flaring is a safety measure to burn of extra oil, "and is a normal process" during such events.

"BP is working to resolve the power outage as quickly as possible," the City of Whiting said in a news release.

Witnesses who live nearby said they've never seen the plant put out smoke like that before.

"At 10 after 12, I heard the familiar rumble from the flares, then I look out my window. I said, 'Oh, my God.' It was just a … big ball of black smoke. I mean, never seen before like that before," Dennis Betusak said.

BP ordered the evacuation of non-essential workers. A day care center near the sprawling facility said on social media that it was told to evacuate.   

Indianapolis Boulevard, which runs through the refinery, is closed from 129th to Schrage.

Last month, a leak from the refinery was to blame for the mysterious smell in the south suburbs.

A spokesperson for BP's refinery in Whiting said it experienced a leak from a storage tank in the fields last week. The leak was stopped and contained at the tank confinement area as of last Friday.  

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