A large column of fire that shot up into the sky in Torrance on Saturday evening was caused by the malfunctioning of a valve at the Torrance Refinery, a refinery spokeswoman said on Sunday, Nov 4.
A Torrance Fire Department official initially told a reporter the incident was caused by a power outage leading to a cracked pipe that leaked hydrocarbon gas. But Barbara Graham of the Torrance Refining Company said on Sunday that was not the cause.
Steve Treskes, assistant chief at the Torrance Fire Department who made the statement on Saturday, could not immediately be reached for comment on Sunday.
Graham said in a written statement on Sunday, “At approximately 5:50 p.m. on November 3rd, 2018, a valve at the Torrance Refinery malfunctioned, which resulted in a short, unplanned flaring event. Operators quickly isolated the valve and the flaring stopped.
“The Refinery notified appropriate agencies; there was no offsite impact; and the refinery continues to run according to plan.
“We regret any concern the flaring may have caused and clarify that earlier news reports of a power outage at the refinery causing a cracked pipe were erroneous. Reports attributing the cause of flaring to a power failure and leak are also incorrect.”
Torrance Fire Department officials responded to a call from the refinery at 5:49 p.m. A hazmat team with the department investigated the incident and found no traces of combustible gas in the refinery and outside in the surrounding area, Treskes said Saturday.
Traces of the flare could be seen by drivers passing by and as far as the Griffith Observatory, more than 20 miles north of the refinery. Residents on social media posted their view of the flare.
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