Refinery flare off knocks out power to thousands in LA

Posted at 7:47 AM, Oct 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-11 14:32:02-04
TORRANCE, Calif. -- A major power outage affected several Los Angeles cities Tuesday morning, including parts of Torrance, where a flare-off event was triggered at a refinery, which was evacuated as a precaution, officials said.
The outage, reported before 6 a.m., knocked out power to thousands of customers in the area and led to a flare-off at the Torrance Refining Co., according to the Torrance police and fire departments. The refinery was shut down and evacuated, said Torrance Fire Department Capt. Bob Millea.
Two flare-offs took place at the refinery about a month ago, both related to electrical problems.
Shortly after this morning's event was triggered, the city of Torrance issued an emergency notification to residents.
"If you live in the area near the refinery, implement 'shelter in place' procedures," the city said. "Stay inside buildings, shut all doors and windows, turn off air conditioners, and turn off all air handling systems. You will be notified when there is a change in status. If you have a life threatening emergency, please dial 911."
The shelter-in-place order was lifted about 7:30 a.m., Millea said.
However, the Torrance Unified School District declared today a "student free day," which means students stay home but staffers must report for work, Millea said.
A flare-off is a safety procedure that refineries use "to relieve pressure and ensure gases are safely combusted to minimize releases to the atmosphere," according to the Torrance Fire Department.
The Manhattan Beach Police Department reminded motorists that intersections where traffic signals are blacked out should be treated as four- way stop.
According to Southern California Edison's website, outages were reported in several South Bay cities at 5:41 a.m., including Hawthorne, Torrance, Gardena, Redondo Beach, and Manhattan Beach.