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Cause Of Fire At U.S. Refinery Near Vancouver Not Known

Investigators are working to determine the cause of a fire at an oil refinery in Blaine, Wash., on Friday.

Workers at the BP Cherry Point refinery near Blaine in Whatcom County were evacuated shortly after the fire broke out at around 2:30 p.m. PT.

Live television footage showed crews sending several streams of water into the fire and also using retardant foam to douse the facility.

The refinery produces the majority of the fuel used by aircraft at Vancouver International Airport, as well as airports in Seattle and Portland.

Bill Kidd, who speaks for the BP Cherry Point Refinery, said the plant has lost half its production ability.

"The crude unit is the front end of the refinery and so we no longer have that unit available so we're not going to be able to produce the products that our customers are used to seeing come out."

Kidd can't say when the refinery will be able to operate normally again. The 2.6-square-kilometre refinery employs more than 800 people and can process up to 230,000 barrels of crude oil a day.

"We've gone from running 230,000 barrels a day of crude to not running any barrels of crude a day for some period of time."

In the meantime, it's using refined fuel stored in tankers to supply customers like Vancouver's airport, but Kidd admits it may not last.

"But I do know that our supply group is working around the clock to try to figure out how to make up for the product that's being produced here," he said.

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