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UPDATE 5-Fire rips through Philadelphia refinery, no significant injuries

Jarrett Renshaw

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June 21 (Reuters) - Firefighters are battling a massive fire at Philadelphia Energy Solutions' refinery in Philadelphia, a blaze that has resulted in no significant injuries, the company said on Friday.

The fire broke out at the Girard Point section of the 335,000-barrels-per-day refinery early in the day, the company said.

News of the explosive caused gasoline futures traded on NYMEX to spike 3.4 percent.

The plant is the largest and oldest oil refinery on the U.S. East Coast, where there has been a plant on site since 1870.

"Refinery emergency response crews and the Philadelphia Fire Department are attempting to bring the fire under control. We are in the process of accounting for all personnel. There were no significant injuries," a company spokeswoman said.

Energy intelligence provider Genscape reported the fire had shut the crude section at Girard Point.

A major explosion occurred at an alkylation unit in the refinery, a source familiar with plant operations said.

A veteran refinery worker who was at the plant when the fire broke out said, "It was the worst I've ever experienced," he said. "It looked like a nuclear bomb went off. I thought we were all going to die."

The worker, who declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said there were two separate explosions.

Police closed roadways surrounding the refining complex, the spokeswoman added.

Aerial video of the scene aired on local television showed the complex engulfed in flames and significant damage. The incident comes as the refiner is struggling financially, slashing worker benefits and scaling back capital projects to save cash. If the damage is significant, there will be questions on whether the company has enough money to rebuild.

A fire broke out on June 10 at the same refinery, which according to a source familiar with operations affected a 50,000-barrels-per-day catalytic cracking unit. (Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman, Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Jarrett Renshaw in New York and additional reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Dale Hudson)