Chevron fire reminds officials how dangerous the refinery can be

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Authorities have identified the only victim of the Chevron plant fire as 49-year-old Tonya Grady, of Alabama. She had worked at the refinery for five years. Fire crews from Chevron managed to get the blaze under control, but Jackson County fire crews were on site to back them up.

Jackson County Emergency Services Director, Earl Ethridge, said even though Chevron has their own fire department, Jackson County still has procedures in place for these types of emergencies.

"Our job is either to back them up or if it exceeds their capabilities we assist them with that. If something were to happen where something were to get off site then we would deal with that," said Ethridge.

Ethridge said it had been five years since Jackson County fire officials have had to respond to a blaze at the plant. Back in 2007, a fire ignited in one of the refinery's crude processing units. Though it's been years since the last fire, Jackson County fire fighters still work closely with Chevron's fire department

"We do yearly training with Chevron on hydrocarbons, the city departments and the fire departments and the county. We do a lot of training with them, as a matter of fact, next week we're doing a live exercise with them."

Chevron has a highly trained fire department on site, which is why Ethridge says the blaze was contained without the county's help.

"I would say we were probably on site outside the gate in our staging area probably about 45 minutes before we had it all fully contained."

Although the fire was contained within an hour, one person still lost their life in blaze. It's something that reminds Deputy Chief, Donnie Carlson of Pascagoula Fire Department, just how dangerous work at the refinery can be.

"It's a very unfortunate situation. They do work around petroleum all day long so the possibility of that happening is there. We are always upset with loss of life," said Carlson.

Authorities say the blaze ignited around 2 a.m. Friday morning.

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