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NEW YORK Blast sparks a massive fire at ExxonMobil oil facility



Published: Fri, February 21, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



An FBI spokesman said there was no immediate indication of terrorism.

NEW YORK (AP) -- An explosion rocked an oil storage facility at the edge of Staten Island today, sending black smoke and flames hundreds of feet into the air.

"We have a preliminary report that a tanker was transferring a product or was being fueled and somehow ignited," Fire Department Chief William Van Wart said.

It wasn't immediately clear whether any of the dozens of oil tanks at the ExxonMobil storage facility burned.

FBI spokesman Steve Kodak in Newark, N.J., said there was no indication of terrorism. However, FBI officials in Washington said they were still examining it because a refinery is the type of infrastructure terrorists might target.

The Department of Homeland Security "is closely monitoring the situation with local and state authorities and other federal agencies as well as assisting in the coordination of the response," said department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse.

Heard miles away

The explosion, which could be heard several miles away, occurred at the edge of Port Mobile, near the Outerbridge Crossing that links the island to Woodbridge, N.J., in the southwestern part of Staten Island, said a spokeswoman for the Staten Island borough office.

It was reported shortly after 10 a.m., according to a spokeswoman for the New York Fire Department. No injuries were immediately reported.

City officials said residents were not in immediate danger.

"At this point, people should not take any special precautions. It's unlikely this could spread to a residential area," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said shortly after the fire was reported.




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