Two Delaware City Refinery employees were critically injured Wednesday afternoon in a fire that sent flames and black smoke shooting into the sky above the facility.
The victims were flown to Christiana Hospital in Stanton for assessment before being taken to the Crozer Burn Center in Upland, Pennsylvania, according to Assistant State Fire Marshal Michael Chionchio. The fire is under investigation.
Lisa Lindsey, a spokeswoman for PBF Energy, which owns the Delaware City Refining Co. at the Route 9 industrial complex, said the fire was reported about 1:40 p.m.
Refinery firefighters responded "immediately" and quickly brought the blaze under control, she said.
Local firefighters from Port Penn Volunteer Fire Company and Delaware City Volunteer Fire Company also responded. They were asked to remain on standby, Lindsey said.
"Refinery management has notified appropriate government agencies and public officials about the incident," Lindsey said in an email statement to Delaware Online/The News Journal. "The cause of the incident is unknown at this time and an investigation will be conducted."
When asked if there was information about chemicals being released into the air from the fire, Lindsey said only that "there were no threats to the community."
As the fire unfolded, the Delaware Department of Transportation closed Route 72 at Route 13 and Route 9 at Hamburg Road. The roads were shut down for about an hour, reopening before 3 p.m.
Delaware State Police’s medical helicopter, Trooper 4, landed about 2:20 p.m., and took off several minutes later. Several ambulances were also staged just inside the entrance to the refinery.
Delaware State Police’s medical helicopter, Trooper 4, landed about 2:20 p.m., and took off several minutes later. Several ambulances were also staged just inside the entrance to the refinery
Smoke could be seen coming in plumes from one smokestack at the refinery, and firefighters could be seen shooting water onto it.
Shortly after 2:30 p.m., firefighters and paramedics were seen carrying equipment out of the refinery and walking back toward their emergency vehicles Around that same time, command at the refinery placed the situation under control, according to the police and fire scanner.
Facebook users posted that the smoke billowing up from the fire could be seen throughout New Castle County and into Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey.
This is not the first large fire at the refinery in recent years.
A fire at the refinery in February 2019 sent more than 6,000 pounds of "various pollutants" into the air, including sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. Both chemicals are considered poisonous and can cause a slew of health problems if inhaled, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In January, Delaware environmental regulators fined the Delaware City Refinery Co. $70,000 for air pollution violations from November 2018 and June 2019.
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