An oil refinery fire at a Phillips 66 refinery in Borger, Texas earlier this week left two workers injured and a community on high alert. Oil refinery fires represent a significant hazard in the industrial landscape, posing grave risks to both workers and surrounding communities. The complex nature of refinery operations, combined with the presence of flammable materials and high-temperature processes, underscores the importance of robust safety measures and emergency preparedness.

In the aftermath of an oil refinery fire, it is essential not to overlook the rights and wellbeing of the workers who may have been injured or affected by the incident. Understanding oil workers’ legal rights and avenues for recourse is paramount in ensuring they receive the support and compensation they deserve.

At Kherkher Garcia, our oil and gas injury lawyers are fierce advocates for the rights of oil and gas workers. Below, we provide details on the Phillips 66 fire, along with information about how our lawyers can help workers who are injured due to a workplace fire.

Phillips 66 Oil Refinery Fire Details

On April 1, 2024, Borger, Texas, a small community nestled in the Texas Panhandle, found itself in the throes of a sudden crisis as a fire broke out at the Phillips 66 refinery. The towering flames and billowing smoke that engulfed the refinery sent shockwaves through the town, prompting emergency response efforts and raising concerns about safety, environmental impact, and the future of the facility.

The Phillips 66 refinery, a crucial component of the region’s economy, has long been a cornerstone of Borger’s industrial landscape. Responsible for processing crude oil into various petroleum products, the refinery plays a pivotal role in supplying fuel to the local area and beyond. However, on that fateful April day, the refinery became the epicenter of a significant incident that would leave a lasting mark on the community.

Details surrounding the cause of the fire are still emerging, with investigations underway to determine the exact sequence of events that led to the blaze. Initial reports suggest that the fire originated in one of the processing units within the refinery complex, though the precise ignition point and underlying factors remain subject to scrutiny. Whether it was a mechanical malfunction, human error, or some other unforeseen circumstance that sparked the inferno, the repercussions were immediate and far-reaching.

Emergency responders from the Borger Fire Department, supported by neighboring agencies and Phillips 66 personnel, sprang into action to contain the blaze and prevent its escalation. Their efforts were hampered by the intensity of the fire and the complex nature of the refinery infrastructure. As flames licked the sky and thick plumes of smoke blanketed the area, residents were urged to shelter in place while authorities worked tirelessly to bring the situation under control.

What are the Common Causes of Oil Refinery Fires?

Oil refinery fires can be caused by a variety of factors, many of which are inherent to the nature of the refining process and the complex machinery and equipment involved. Other causes can be attributed to human error or negligence. Some common causes of fires at oil refineries include:

Equipment Failure

Malfunctioning equipment, such as pumps, compressors, valves, or turbines, can lead to leaks, overheating, or sparks. Any of these may ignite flammable materials.

Human Error

Mistakes made during maintenance, repairs, or operational procedures can inadvertently trigger fires. Examples include improper handling of equipment, failure to follow safety protocols, or inadequate training of personnel.

Electrical Hazards

Electrical faults, short circuits, or overloading of electrical systems can generate sparks or arcing. These hazards can easily ignite combustible materials or flammable gases.

Chemical Reactions

The refining process involves various chemical reactions and interactions that can produce heat and potentially combustible byproducts. If not properly controlled, these reactions can escalate into fires or explosions.

Leaks and Spills

Accidental release of flammable liquids or gases due to leaks or spills from pipelines, storage tanks, or transfer systems can create ignition sources. This is especially dangerous in the presence of heat, sparks, or open flames.

Hot Work

Welding, cutting, grinding, or other hot work activities conducted during maintenance or construction projects pose a fire risk, particularly if performed in proximity to flammable materials or in hazardous environments.

Poor Maintenance Practices

Inadequate inspection, maintenance, or repair of equipment and infrastructure can result in deteriorating conditions, corrosion, or mechanical failures that increase the likelihood of fires.

Combustible Dust

Accumulation of combustible dust from processing operations or storage facilities, combined with ignition sources, can fuel explosions and fires.

Improper Storage

Improper storage of flammable liquids, gases, or chemicals can heighten the risk of fires and spills. This includes including inadequate containment measures or incompatible storage arrangements.

Process Upsets or Upgrades

Changes in operating conditions, process upsets, or modifications to equipment or procedures can introduce unforeseen hazards or vulnerabilities that may contribute to fire incidents.

By identifying and addressing potential causes of fires proactively, refineries can mitigate risks and protect the safety of workers, nearby communities, and the environment.

What can Oil Refineries do to Protect Workers From Fires?

Oil refineries have a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of their workers in the face of potential fire hazards. Implementing comprehensive safety measures and protocols is essential to protect workers from fires. Here are some strategies that oil refineries can employ to safeguard their employees:

Training and Education

Provide thorough training and education programs for all employees. Training should include fire safety procedures, hazard recognition, emergency response protocols, and the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Regular refresher courses and drills should reinforce these concepts and ensure that workers are prepared to respond effectively in the event of a fire.

Safety Policies and Procedures

Develop and enforce robust safety policies and procedures specific to fire prevention and response. Clearly communicate expectations for safe work practices, hazard mitigation, and emergency evacuation routes. Encourage a culture of safety where employees feel empowered to identify and report potential hazards.

Risk Assessments

Conduct regular risk assessments and audits to identify fire hazards, assess their severity, and prioritize mitigation measures. This includes evaluating equipment integrity, process safety controls, storage practices, and potential ignition sources. Address any identified deficiencies promptly to reduce the risk of fires.

Engineering Controls

Implement engineering controls to mitigate fire risks, such as installing flame arrestors, pressure relief devices, automatic shut-off valves, and fire suppression systems. Ensure that these systems are properly designed, maintained, and tested to function effectively in the event of a fire.

Proper Equipment Maintenance

Establish a rigorous maintenance program to inspect, maintain, and repair equipment and infrastructure regularly. This includes mechanical systems, electrical components, piping, valves, and instrumentation. Promptly address any signs of wear, corrosion, or malfunction that could contribute to fire hazards.

Fire Detection and Alarm Systems

Install and maintain reliable fire detection and alarm systems throughout the refinery, including smoke detectors, heat sensors, and manual pull stations. Ensure that alarms are clearly audible and visible, with designated alarm response procedures to alert workers to potential fire emergencies.

Firefighting Equipment

Provide adequate firefighting equipment, such as fire extinguishers, hose reels, hydrants, and foam suppression systems, strategically located throughout the refinery. Ensure that employees are trained in the proper use of firefighting equipment and that it is regularly inspected, tested, and maintained in accordance with applicable regulations.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Supply appropriate PPE to workers, including flame-resistant clothing, safety goggles, gloves, and respiratory protection, as needed. Ensure that PPE is properly fitted, maintained, and worn in accordance with established safety protocols to minimize the risk of injury in the event of a fire.

Emergency Response Plans

Develop comprehensive emergency response plans that outline procedures for evacuating personnel, notifying emergency services, containing fires, and mitigating the release of hazardous materials. Conduct regular drills and simulations to test the effectiveness of these plans and identify areas for improvement.

Continuous Improvement

Foster a culture of continuous improvement by soliciting feedback from employees, conducting incident investigations, and implementing corrective actions to prevent recurrence. Regularly review and update safety policies, procedures, and training programs to address evolving risks and regulatory requirements.

By prioritizing worker safety and implementing proactive measures to prevent fires, oil refineries can create a safer work environment for employees and minimize the potential impact of fire emergencies on operations, communities, and the environment.

How Can a Lawyer Help Oil Refinery Workers Injured in a Fire?

When oil refinery workers are injured in a fire, seeking legal assistance from a knowledgeable lawyer can be crucial in ensuring they receive the compensation and support they deserve. Here are several ways a lawyer can help oil refinery workers injured in a fire:

Legal Representation

A lawyer specializing in personal injury or workers’ compensation law can provide skilled legal representation for injured workers. They can navigate the complexities of the legal system on behalf of their clients, advocating for their rights and interests throughout the claims process.

Protecting Legal Rights

A lawyer will protect the legal rights of injured workers throughout the legal process, advising them on their rights, options, and potential outcomes. They will ensure that their clients are treated fairly and that their interests are safeguarded every step of the way.

Investigation and Documentation

A lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fire and the resulting injuries. They will gather evidence, interview witnesses, review safety records, and obtain relevant documentation to build a strong case on behalf of the injured workers.

Determining Liability

A lawyer will assess liability for the fire and the injuries sustained by refinery workers. This may involve identifying negligent parties, such as the refinery owner or operator, contractors, equipment manufacturers, or other entities whose actions or omissions contributed to the fire or failed to provide a safe working environment.

Filing Claims

A lawyer will assist injured workers in filing workers’ compensation claims or pursuing personal injury lawsuits against responsible parties. They will ensure that all necessary paperwork is completed accurately and submitted within applicable deadlines to maximize the chances of obtaining compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

Negotiating with Insurance Companies

Insurance companies representing the refinery or other liable parties may attempt to minimize payouts or deny claims altogether. A lawyer will negotiate with insurance adjusters on behalf of injured workers to secure fair settlements that adequately compensate them for their injuries and losses.


If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiations, a lawyer will be prepared to take the case to court and litigate on behalf of their clients. They will present compelling evidence, expert testimony, and legal arguments to persuade a judge or jury of their clients’ right to compensation for their injuries.

Providing Peace of Mind

By enlisting the services of a skilled lawyer, injured oil refinery workers can gain peace of mind knowing that their case is in capable hands. A lawyer will provide guidance, support, and reassurance, allowing their clients to focus on their recovery while they handle the legal aspects of their case.

An oil and gas injury lawyer can be instrumental in helping oil refinery workers injured in a fire navigate the complexities of the legal system. A lawyer will pursue compensation for the victim’s injuries, and help achieve a sense of justice and closure following a traumatic experience.

Free Consultation with an Oil and Gas Injury Lawyer

If you or someone you love works in the oil and gas industry and has been injured in an oil refinery fire, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. From the moment you contact Kherkher Garcia, our lawyers begin exploring how we can help you protect your rights and pursue compensation for your injuries. No matter what sort of facility or occupation you work in, we can help you find the best path forward to recovery.

To get started learning more about your legal rights and options, contact Kherkher Garcia for a free consultation. You can reach our team by calling 713-333-1030, or by submitting our online contact form.

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Kevin Haynes

Kevin Haynes

Firm Partner and Trial Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Injury Trial Lawyer and Firm Partner Kevin Haynes. Kevin has been a practicing injury lawyer for more than 15 years. He has won $150 Million+ in Settlements and Verdicts for his clients. Kevin is powerful and effective in the courtroom and the trial lawyer you want on your side if you or a loved one have been seriously injured at work or on the road.

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