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BP says no injuries in Texas City hydrotreater fire

HOUSTON (Reuters) - BP Plc said a fire that broke out on Tuesday afternoon in a residual hydrotreater at the company's 400,780 barrel-per-day Texas City, Texas, refinery was extinguished in about 1-1/2 hours and resulted in no injuries.

BP spokesman Scott Dean said a portion of the refinery was evacuated.

The residual hydrotreater remained shut following the fire, but the rest of the refinery's units, including crude distillation and gasoline plants, were operating, Dean said.

The blaze was fought by the refinery's fire department, Dean said.

A residual hydrotreater uses hydrogen to remove sulfur from crude oil residuals before they are processed in refining units. Crude oil residuals are heavy, tar-like portions of a barrel of crude oil.

The Texas City Emergency Management office said heavy oil was burning in the blaze, creating a smoke plume that could be seen up to five miles away.

Nearby residents were not told to take special precautions to prevent exposure to the smoke, according to the Emergency Management Office.

BP announced on October 8 that it would sell the BP refinery, the nation's sixth largest, in a $2.5-billion deal to Marathon Petroleum Corp.

In the sale to Marathon, the refinery has a base price of $598 million and Marathon will pay up to an additional $700 million over six years depending on the plant's profitability. The company also agreed to pay BP an estimated $1.2 billion for crude and product inventories.

The Texas City refinery was the site of the deadliest U.S. refinery accident in the 21st century when a March 2005 explosion killed 15 workers and injured 180 others.

(Reporting by Kristen Hays and Erwin Seba; Editing by Dale Hudson, Carol Bishopric and Jim Marshall)

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