Fire explodes at BP Cherry Point oil refinery


by KING 5 News

Posted on February 17, 2012 at 3:45 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 6 at 11:15 AM

NEAR BLAINE, Wash. -- A large fire broke out at the BP oil refinery at Cherry Point, near Ferndale, Friday afternoon.

Pictures from SkyKING showed a huge column of black smoke, with intermittent bursts of fire coming out of the refinery's south tower.

BP Spokesperson Michael Abendhoff told KING 5 News there are no injuries that he is aware off.

The fire exploded shortly after 2:30 p.m., and immediately about 100 workers were evacuated from the facility.

Firefighters are on the ground, using foam to fight the fire. Abendhoff said BP employs its own fire crew at the refinery site, but has requested mutual aid from Whatcom County fire districts.

It is unknown how the fire started. The fire was fed by fuel, but Cherry Point refines many types including gasoline, jet fuel and diesel.

The Environmental Protection Agency was notified to monitor the air surrounding the refinery for harmful toxins. In addition, the Department of Ecology and Coast Guard used boats to monitor nearby wetlands and bays for any residues.

The most recent satefy inspections of the Cherry Point refinery in 2010 show BP was hit with 13 "serious" violations that totalled about $70,000 in fines.

According to officials at Sea-Tac International Airport, about 85 percent of the airport's jet fuel comes from the refinery.

BP reports the Cherry Point refinery was commissioned in 1971 and processes about 230,000 barrels of crude oil each day. It is the largest oil refinery in Washington and the third largest on the west coast.