Tank at Tesoro refinery in Carson blows lid and catches fire


A sulfur tank at a large oil refinery in Carson ruptured and caught fire Friday afternoon, prompting officials to order people in the area to shelter in place.

The lid of the 1-ton tank at the sprawling Tesoro refinery “blew off” about 1 p.m., said Inspector Gustavo Medina of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The sulfur in the tank dissipated, but insulation material caught fire, sending a plume of smoke over the facility, Medina said.


No injuries were reported, but sheriff’s officials ordered anyone within a quarter of a mile of the refinery to shelter in place as a precaution. They also shut down Alameda Street between 223rd Street and Sepulveda Boulevard as emergency personnel responded to the scene.

By 7:30 p.m., the order to remain indoors had been lifted and the street reopened, according to a statement released by Tesoro. In the statement, the company clarified that the plume that rose from the tank had been steam instead of smoke.

The cause of the eruption and the fire is under investigation, Medina added.

A spokesman for Tesoro said “an incident response team” at the refinery was monitoring the air quality at the site. No harmful levels of toxins had been detected, the spokesman said.

Tesoro’s Los Angeles refinery is the largest on the West Coast and is capable of processing 380,000 barrels of oil a day, according to the company’s website. The facility receives crude oil from California deposits as well as Alaska, West Africa and elsewhere and manufactures it into gasoline, jet fuel and other products.

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7:58 p.m.: This article was updated with the shelter in place order being lifted.

This article was originally published at 4:10 p.m.