With multiple fire agencies responding to the scene, firefighters used massive quantities of water and foam to make quick work of the flames, extinguishing them in about 45 minutes. No one was injured.
The flames touched power lines, sending off big electrical flashes and sending some lines to the ground. The fire also threatened storage tanks at the refinery.
The fire came after a reported explosion in the area around 10:30 p.m. Firefighters from the refinery's on-site industrial fire department were first to respond.
"It was putting off a lot of heat, a lot of energy, but they've dealt with this before and they were kind of Johnny-on-the-spot and did a fantastic job over there," said Battalion Chief Breck Slover of the El Segundo Fire Departement.
With smoke blowing into nearby residential areas, the fire department asked people in the area to close their windows and shelter in place. No evacuations were ordered.
"It can always be worse than it is," Slover said. "It was really spectacular looking, and I think because of the quick action, the quick thinking of everybody involved, that it kept it down to what it was."
The refinery, built in 1911, is located at 324 W. El Segundo Boulevard.
According to Chevron, the refinery is the largest on the West Coast, processing more than 274,000 barrels of crude every day. The property covers 1,000 acres and has a storage capacity of 12. 5 million barrels in 150 storage tanks larger than 30 feet in diameter.
The refinery is just south of Los Angeles International Airport. It did not immediately appear the smoke interfered with flights.
Refinery officials released a statement addressing the blaze.
"Chevron's primary concern is to ensure the safety of its employees and the surrounding community and the environment. Chevron is working very closely with the local agencies to ensure that we meet those expectations in responding to this incident," the statement said, in part.
Multiple fire agencies were called in to assist Chevron and El Segundo firefighters, including Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach firefighters.
El Segundo police said Vista Del Mar would remain closed due to downed power lines. It was unclear how long the road would be closed.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.
"At this point, Chevron does not expect this incident to have an impact on its ability to supply petroleum products to its customers in the region," the company's statement said.