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Fire Erupts Following Explosion At Marathon Refinery In Carson

CARSON (CBSLA) — A fire erupted following an explosion at the Marathon Refinery in Carson Tuesday night.

An apparent hydrogen fire was reported at 1406 E. Sepulveda Boulevard, on the north side of the refinery complex, at approximately 10:50 p.m., L.A. County Fire Department officials said. As of 4 a.m., there were still flames burning residual fuel in the pipeline, but that was expected to be out by 5 a.m.

L.A. County Fire Department spokesperson Tony Imbrenda confirmed to CBS2/KCAL9 there was a hazmat response to the scene, but no immediate report of injuries.

An internal fire brigade at the refinery handled the initial response to the blaze, Imbrenda said.

"Typically what you see is our apparatus being brought in to cool equipment that's in the region that's being exposed to radiant heat to ensure that there's no extension and the fire doesn't make its way over to adjacent equipment," Imbrenda said.

North and southbound lanes of the 405 Freeway were shut down at Wilmington Avenue to the 110 Freeway a short time after the fire erupted. Lanes were re-opened at 11:45 p.m. Some streets remained closed in the area Wednesday, including eastbound 223rd Street at Wilmington Avenue, westbound 223rd Street at Arco Way, southbound Wilmington Avenue at the 405 Freeway, and northbound Wilmington Avenue at Watson Center Drive.

A witness who was at a gas station across the street from the refinery described windows shaking when two explosions occurred.

"First I heard a boom. At first I wasn't sure what it was. Then I looked around and I looked outside and there was a big fire in the refinery ... then I heard another boom," Shell station worker Charles Dimarucoc said.

Another witness described hearing multiple explosions.

"We thought there was some sort of movie being filmed ... then we realized it was way more serious than what we imagined," a Wilmington resident said.

The Marathon Petroleum Refinery is the largest refinery on the West Coast and processes heavy crude oil from California's San Joaquin Valley and Los Angeles Basin, according to the Marathon website.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

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