An explosion at the ExxonMobil oil refinery near Lockwood Saturday night brought a large emergency response from multiple agencies, according to witnesses and Gazette reporters at the scene.
The fire was initially reported at around 10 pm, and crews had the blaze contained within 40 minutes.
“No evacuation order had been made and no injuries have been reported,” wrote Dan Carter, public affairs specialist for the ExxonMobil Billings Refinery, in a statement to the Gazette. “Lockwood and Billings fire departments are also responding in support of the effort. We are sorry this incident has occurred and apologize for any disruption or inconvenience.”
Bystanders could see a smoke column rising from the refinery in the late evening hours and witnesses described flames erupting from the compound.
Josh Thometz was watching a movie with his family at his home on Lapin Street when they heard a boom echo outside. They went to the street and one of their neighbors told them the refinery was on fire. Thometz captured footage of the flames as first responders battled the blaze.
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The Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office said roads into the refinery were being cordoned off and people should avoid the area.
Sheriff Mike Linder said deputies helped direct traffic away from the refinery, while crews with county Disaster and Emergency Services, Lockwood Fire and the Billings Fire Department were at the scene of the fire.
Along with assistance from city and county crews, the refinery maintains its own emergency response team, the Gazette previously reported. The response team includes a fire brigade and rescue squad.
The ExxonMobile refinery spans 720 acres, and its products include gasoline, diesel, asphalt, butane and propane.