Fire at Oil Refinery in South Philadelphia Causes Massive Explosions

A massive fire rocked an oil refinery in South Philadelphia early Friday morning, causing explosions that could be felt as far away as New Jersey, according to early news reports. No evacuations have been issued for the area, but those in neighborhoods near the blaze were ordered to shelter in place.


The fire started at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery at 3100 Passyunk Avenue shortly after 4:00 AM, according to the local NBC News affiliate. Witnesses in the area reported at least three explosions that rocked their vehicles and lit up the early morning sky. One Twitter user in South Philly reported that he thought his upstairs neighbor had simply fallen out of bed.

The Department of Health said that there’s nothing to be worried about as far as air quality is concerned.


One of the most astonishing videos of the fire was captured by a Twitter user around 4:15 AM, showing enormous fireballs rippling toward the sky.

Another video, captured by NBC10 Philadelphia and posted to Facebook, shows one of the explosions that was so powerful that the cameraperson on the scene had to pull the camera back to capture it all.

The Washington Post has a livestream of the fire on YouTube, which was still burning as of 7 AM local time, and the blaze is listed as not yet under control.

The refinery complex processes roughly 335,000 barrels of crude oil per day, about 14 million U.S. gallons, and is one of the largest refineries on the east coast, according to the company’s website.


No injuries have been announced and an investigation into what caused the fire has officially begun according to local TV news station ABC6.

Update: This article has been updated with a statement from the Department of Health.


Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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I had my central air when I heard the explosion. I was like “please don’t be the AC unit”.