Seven hurt in fire at El Dorado refinery

Workers stand together Saturday after a fire broke out at Delek: El Dorado Refinery, formerly known as Lion Oil, in El Dorado, Ark. Seven people were injured, El Dorado Fire Chief Chad Mosby said. (Photo courtesy of Penny Chanler)

EL DORADO, Ark. - Seven people were injured Saturday when a fire broke out at a local oil refinery, officials said.

El Dorado Fire Chief Chad Mosby said Station 3 received a call to respond to the fire at the Delek: El Dorado Refinery, formerly known as Lion Oil, at approximately 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Mosby wasn't sure what time the fire started; a company fire brigade got the fire under control before EFD arrived, he said.

"It was reported as a small explosion, but it appeared to be a flash fire of some sort," he said. "Lion Oil's fire brigade got it under control rapidly."

Rochell Thompson, who lives up the street from the refinery, shared several videos of the fire on social media.

"I was sitting in my living room when my house shook. I went outside and saw the plant on fire, then I started to record because this wasn't the first time," Thompson said in a message to the News-Times.

A fire previously broke out at the Lion Oil/Delek refinery in February 2019. No injuries were reported in that incident, and the cause of the fire was not released. Lion Oil's fire brigade also got that fire under control. An EPD officer on scene at that fire said they responded to the sound of sirens.

Thompson said she's lived near Lion Oil, on West Second Street, for about 10 years; her husband built their home, she said. She was also home when the 2019 fire broke out. Today, when the fire broke out, she initially thought her son had run her truck into their home.

Mosby said the EFD, Pro-Med Ambulance and Passord Ambulance, out of north Louisiana, transported patients first to the Medical Center of South Arkansas, and then to Little Rock. The three agencies have a mutual aid agreement. Survival Flight also assisted in transfers, he said, taking off from Goodwin Field.

"I don't know the condition of all the patients," Mosby said.

Alex Bennett, executive directory of business development at MCSA, said six patients were brought to the hospital and four were subsequently transferred to the Arkansas Children's Hospital Burn Unit. They were not children, she said.

"Arkansas Children's has the best burn unit in the state," Bennett explained. "Pretty much all burn patients are transferred to Children's."

Two patients remained at MCSA, Bennett said.

"My heart was skipping a beat when I saw how high the fire was," Thompson said. "My mom stays across the street. She felt like trying to leave the area. She already has health problems."

Thompson said she called 911 to report the fire and was asked if she lived nearby. From her home, she could see about five ambulances, she said, and police officers blocking the streets.

Along with the EFD, the Union County Sheriff's Office and the Arkansas State Police responded and helped to control traffic on the scene. The News-Times reached out to the El Dorado Police Department but did not hear back by presstime.

Thompson could hear the sirens from Lion Oil as well. "I hope no one got hurt," she said.

Mosby said Delek/Lion Oil officials were still trying to find the cause of the fire when he left the scene Saturday evening.

The News-Times reached out to Lion Oil and the Delek corporate office several times Saturday afternoon for information but did not hear back by presstime.