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Fire at Valero's Memphis plant

25 August 2011

Valero Energy Corp. said a fire was reported recently at its Memphis - Tennessee plant, and the blaze was extinguished after a few hours. No injuries were reported, and all Valero workers and contract employees have been accounted for, Valero spokesman Bill Day said in an emailed statement.

The fire started at one of the plant's two crude units, and Valero shut down both crude units at the plant, Day said. He said the company didn’t know yet how long the crude units will be out of commission. The cause of the fire is under investigation, Day added.

A person interviewed Friday by Memphis' WMC-TV said an explosion occurred at the plant that shook the apartment building where he was working three miles away.

The Memphis Fire Department responded to the fire, and reported heavy smoke, Lt. Wayne Cooke said. "We brought the fire under control within 25 to 26 minutes," Cooke said. "There were no injuries to any of the firefighters."

Valero is conducting an investigation of the accident, and Cooke said the Memphis Fire Department also had investigators on the scene.

Valero's Memphis plant can process 195,000 barrels of light, low-sulfur crude oil a day and makes regular and premium gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and petrochemicals.

Since San Antonio-based refiner Valero acquired the plant in 2005, the company has invested more than $245 million upgrading it, according to the company's website. The plant employs about 310 staff.

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