SHAFTER, Calif. – The Kern County Firefighters responded a 2-alarm fire at the Plains LPG facility in Shafter.
The cause of the fire has not been determined. Initially it was believed that it was caused by an electrical surge after a car hit a power pole.
However, Sean Collins of the Kern County Fire Department said plant personnel were speculating as to the cause, as all systems were operating properly at the time of the incident. It may have been a failure of their equipment that did not respond properly to a loss of electrical power, officials said.
While responding to a reported vehicle accident, Kern County Fire Department Engine 67 noticed a large amount of black smoke coming from the area of 7th Standard Rd and Enos Ln and notified their dispatch, KCFD officials said.
Simultaneously, multiple calls began pouring in to the dispatch center of heavy smoke and fire coming from one of the refining towers at Plains LPG Services, officials said.
Firefighters arrived on scene and found a 100 foot tall heating tower with thick black smoke and fire protruding 30-50 feet from the top opening, and a second alarm response was initiated due to the size and complexity of the incident, officials said.
Plant personnel told responders that the product burning was an oil used in the production process, and the flow of the product to the tower had been stopped.
Crews let the remaining product burn itself out while firefighters continued to cool down surrounding equipment and structure with hose streams, officials said.
All plant personnel were allowed to return to the facility, and firefighters are continuing to work with employees on returning the facility to operation.
The fire was brought under control in under 60 minutes