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Calif. refinery evacuates 1,000 after outage

TORRANCE, Calif. (AP) -- Authorities say a Southern California oil refinery was evacuated after a power outage caused an automatic system reset that sent up a huge flare of smoke and flame from a burn-off pipe.

Torrance fire Capt. Steve Deuel says the Exxon Mobil Corp. refinery momentarily lost power at around 9:20 a.m. Thursday after a Mylar balloon blew into a nearby electrical substation.

Deuel says that tripped restart systems and prompted a large burn-off of products.

Deuel says as a precaution, about 1,000 contract workers, such as electricians and pipefitters, were sent to a nearby park. After about two hours, some returned and others were sent home.

Deuel says the outage didn't cause any equipment failure or serious air pollution but the refinery expects full production will take 12 to 24 hours to restore.