BREAKING NEWS: Refinery Explosion in Big Spring - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/18/08

BREAKING NEWS: Refinery Explosion in Big Spring

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Courtesy KWES Big Spring SkyCam Courtesy KWES Big Spring SkyCam

There has been an explosion at a Fina oil refinery in Big Spring. Plant spokesman, Blake Lewis, says all workers have now been accounted for.

There have been no reports of fatalities, however at least four people were injured.

A medical helicopter brought one patient, a 37 year-old male, to the Timothy J. Harnar Burn Center at University Medical Center in Lubbock. According to UMC Vice President, Greg Bruce, the patient is listed in satisfactory condition. His name has not been released.

Residents as far as 50 miles away felt a large blast around 8:30 a.m. Monday. Big Spring is about 105 miles southeast of Lubbock, and 40 miles east of Midland.

First responders arrived to flames and a huge plume of smoke pouring out of the facility. They now say the fire is under control, but the cause of the blast is still unknown.

The refinery is owned by Dallas-based Alon USA, which employs about 170 people and produces about 70,000 barrels a day.

The blast forced the evacuation of two nearby elementary schools before classes were canceled at all nine Big Spring school campuses.

Assistant superintendent, Carie Dunnam, says bus routes were affected by road closures and that emergency officials were warning of the potential for more explosions.

Dunnam says the explosion forced open the doors of the school district's administration building and dropped chunks of her ceiling on her head four miles from the plant.

Sources also tell us that Howard College was evacuated, as well. And Interstate 20 has been shut down.

Upon hearing the news, Congressman Randy Neugebauer traveled to Big Spring to meet with local leaders. Neugebauer will also assess the situation and evaluate if federal assistance is necessary.

"As soon as I heard of the explosion, I made immediate arrangements to travel to Big Spring. I am meeting with local leaders and the community to ensure them, that as their Representative in Congress, I stand ready and willing to assist with any aid they may need to recover from this disaster. It appears that no one was killed during this incident, but four individuals were injured. My thoughts and prayers go out to all those in the Big Spring community and I would like to reassure them, I will do all in my power to bring the assistance needed." Neugebauer stated.

The Big Spring refinery is a major producer in the West Texas area, so our gas prices could be affected while the plant is shut down.

Stay with NewsChannel 11 and KCBD.com for the latest developments.

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