REFILE-Argentina's YPF says now contained fire that destroyed oil plant

Sun Mar 23, 2014 1:09pm EDT

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BUENOS AIRES, March 23 (Reuters) - Argentina's YPF said on Sunday it had brought the huge fire that largely destroyed one of its oil treatment plants under control, after it raged for three days threatening around 4 percent of the state-run energy firm's total output.

Firefighters continued to battle the massive blaze on Sunday from the air and on the ground at the Cerro Divisadero plant in the province of Mendoza, some 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) southwest of Buenos Aires.

YPF said the plant was largely destroyed and parts of the oil tanks had melted, although it did not detail the extent of the damage. Several people suffered injuries in the blaze, although none were severe.

"YPF confirms that the operation ... has allowed the fire at the crude treatment plant Cerro Divisadero to be controlled," YPF said in a statement.

The Cerro Divisadero plant produced 1,460 cubic meters (51,559 cubic feet) of oil per day, or 3.8 percent of YPF's total output, before the fire halted operations.

YPF has said its nearby Lujan de Cuyo refinery, which produces 106,000 barrels of oil per day, has been drawing oil from other plants and is operating normally.

Favorable weather in Mendoza helped emergency workers tackle the blaze under large clouds of black smoke Sunday morning.

Security officials have cut off traffic in the area and evacuated residents from the sparsely-populated region.

YPF said it was working to keep oil from spilling past a contention wall and into a nearby river.

The company also said it was preparing to restart nearby installations that had been closed as a preventative measure.

It did not specify the role of those facilities in its operations. (Reporting By Jorge Otaola; Writing by Mitra Taj; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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