Massive Irving Oil refinery explosion, fire shakes Saint John

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Irving Oil says all their employees and contractors have been accounted for after a massive oil refinery explosion that shook the historic port city Monday and sent flames and plumes of black smoke into the air.

Several photos on social media showed flames at the refinery.

CBC News reports people nearby reported a "bed shaking explosion" and police are urging people to avoid the area. "We are actively assessing the situation at this time and will share more information when available".

Irving Oil has confirmed that they are responding to a "major incident" at the Saint John, New Brunswick facility.

"My whole house shook". It produces 300,000 barrels a day of gasoline, heating oil and jet fuel, exporting half of it to the Northeast through terminals that include Searsport, Portland and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

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Witnesses say there was an explosion at an oil refinery in Saint John, N.B., this morning.

The company said it hoped to minimize the impact of the explosion on clients.

Kevin Scott, Irving Oil's chief refining and supply officer, told reporters at an afternoon briefing that the company was "very grateful today - and being Thanksgiving, I think it's appropriate".

The refinery is near several residential neighborhoods on Saint John's east side.

"Our aim is to grow our community programs, so we can continuously improve this vital relationship", the website says.

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Mark Melanson and Jocelyn Legassie were sitting at the Tim Hortons on Hickey Road, about three kilometres away from the refinery, when they heard a popping sound.

He added when he walked outside he saw thick black smoke billowing so he hopped in his vehicle to take a closer look.

He made a decision to drive by the refinery, and said he was nearby when he felt the vibrations of what he assumed must be a second explosion.

At 4 p.m. local time, residents were still being asked to stay in their homes, and nearby streets remained closed.

When he walked outside, he noticed black smoke coming from the refinery, so he hopped into the auto, drove down the corner and saw fire about 30 metres high.

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