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Fire extinguished at Marathon Detroit refinery

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A fire on Saturday night at a Detroit crude oil refinery that forced the partial evacuation of the town of Melvindale, Michigan, has been extinguished, said a spokesman for the plant's owner, Marathon Petroleum Corp.

No injuries were reported at the refinery from the blaze in a tank containing wastewater from the refining process, said Marathon spokesman Shane Pochard.

"We're working with Melvindale police to return residents to their homes," Pochard said. "That has not yet been completed."

Melvindale Police Sergeant Michael Welch said the evacuation order was canceled before all the residents of a square mile (2.6 square km) of the Detroit suburb could be evacuated. He did not know how many residents were affected.

The blaze broke out about 6 p.m. EDT and was extinguished at about 8 p.m.

"As far as I know, the refinery is still operating normally," Pochard said.

Pochard and Welch said air monitoring in Melvindale showed the air in the community was within acceptable levels.

The tank contained what is called sour water, which includes hydrogen sulfide and ammonia from crude oil refining. The pollutants have to be stripped from the water before it can be reused or sent to an outside wastewater system.

Marathon's Detroit refinery is the only one in the state and can refine up to 106,000 barrels of crude oil a day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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