Refinery blast kills employee, rattles area

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TYLER, TEXAS – A blast that rocked the Delek Refinery in Tyler has killed one worker, the company confirms.

The refinery is located within Tyler’s loop on McMurray Street, about a mile north of the Tyler Junior College main campus. Black smoke could be seen billowing in to the sky around 2p.m. Thursday across the city. A series of fire trucks raced across town with lights flashing and sirens blaring to the massive blaze.

The fire was quickly calmed and the smoke disappeared. Friday, Delek brought in investigtors from its Tennessee headquarters.

In a statement on Friday a company spokesperson said, “A preliminary facility assessment indicates that a fire occurred in the general vicinity of the Saturates Gas Plant and the Naptha Hydrotreater. Though the extent of the damage to these units has not yet been established, early indications are that the vast majority of Tyler’s critical refining units were not impacted by the fire.”

The company on Friday also confirmed the death of one of their own employees as a result of the Thursday blast.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and colleague. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family,” Frank Simmons, Manager of the Tyler Refinery said in a prepared statement.

“Our community has banded together during this time of tragic loss,” said Danny Thomas, a United Steel Workers union spokesperson and Chairman of the refinery’s Workman’s Committee. “In the days and weeks ahead, we will be working to identify the cause and origin of the incident. We extend our deepest sympathies to the families of all those involved.”

Delek reports it is in the process of slowly shutting the Tyler plant down over the next few days.

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