Crews battle large fire at Los Angeles-area refinery after explosion

It was not immediately clear what caused the fire in the city of Carson. Local residents reported hearing an explosion and seeing a fireball.

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By Phil Helsel

An explosion and a large fire erupted at a Los Angeles-area refinery late Tuesday.

The blaze at a Marathon refinery in the city of Carson happened about 11 p.m. Tuesday.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department tweeted that an explosion preceded a fire in the cooling tower, and that Marathon fire crews were keeping the flames in check while the system was being depressurized. No injuries were reported by the county fire department, which was assisting.

Carson is a city in southern Los Angeles County, south of Compton.

Resident Pricilla Reyes told NBC Los Angeles in a phone interview that her niece came running over to ask whether she heard an explosion and that they saw the fire from their home, which is about four blocks from the refinery.

"I heard about four or five explosions, really loud," said Reyes. "You could see the flames and the smoke from our house,” she said.

Reyes said she shut the windows of her home in case the smoke was harmful.

Michael Molina told NBC Los Angeles he saw sparks and then “a big fireball in the air."

"I heard a couple more thumps, and I could see like a big ball of smoke,” Molina said.

Molina, a truck driver who works in the area, said the force of the blast shook his truck.

The city of Carson did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Tuesday.

The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Carson station tweeted crews had secured a perimeter around the facility but did not anticipate needing to evacuate residents. The fire department was monitoring air quality.

Marathon Petroleum’s Los Angeles refinery is the largest on the West Coast with a crude oil capacity of 363,000 barrels per day, according to its website.