Updated 8:30 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.
A call to the Chevron 24-Hour Community Hotline yielded little information about the flame and smoke coming from the refinery in El Segundo Sunday around 6:30 p.m.
Lily Craig, a spokersperson for Chevron, at 7:45 p.m. told Patch the flare-up was caused by a "major process upset" and that there'd been an "emergency shutdown." She said the situation began around 5:50 p.m.
A radio transmission at 6:56 p.m. indicated that a fire within the plant had been "knocked down" and the flare subsided, but it could be "reactivated."
Rod Spackman, the plant's manager of public affairs and government, around 8 p.m. told Patch there had been no fire in the plant, however, El Segundo Fire Department Battalion Chief Breck Slover said there had been a "small ground fire" when cleaning fluid in drums was ignited.
Radio transmissions during the situation indicated a "top actually blew off" and power lines were down inside the refinery.
Slover said one of the processors "blew the top of the tower," causing a "dislodgement" that "knocked power lines down."
Spackman told Patch the plant "lost one gasoline process making unit" which resulted in a "pretty significant" flare-up that "obviously created quite a nuisance this evening."
The "elevated safety flare" with a "significant amount of flaring" is "there to allow us to safetly depressure a plant," Spackman said.
Spackman said plant operators did not know if power lines had come down as reported on radio transmissions, but said a loss of power "may be part of why the unit came down." Plant officials expected to know if loss of power was a factor Monday morning.
According to Manhattan Beach Fire Department Battalion Chief Ken Shuck, Chevron "had some kind of plant disruption" and the "product had gone to flare."
Shuck said, "The whole flare process is their [Chevron's] built-in safety."
The woman who answered the phone on the Chevron 24-Hour Community Hotline reported receiving many phone calls about the situation, saying, "I'm not sure what is going on right now." She couldn't say whether or not the situation was a threat to public safety.
Craig told Patch the situation was not a threat to public safety.
Radio transmissions indicated Los Angeles County fire trucks were being dispatched to cover the two fire stations in El Segundo, presumably while those firefighters responded to the incident at Chevron.
ESFD's Slover said that had been the case and that the Manhattan Beach Fire Department and Los Angeles County units were called in to stage near or at the plant as well.
Manhattan Beach Police Department Watch Commander Sergeant Matt Sabosky said the flare was "burn off" and the flare-up was "a very routine thing that happens over there."
A call to El Segundo Fire Station #1 went unanswered during the incident but station personnel were later reachable by phone.
Both Chevron and ESFD reported no injuries.