About a dozen workers were near the area of the explosion. The fire never threatened the surrounding area or the public, however. Onsite crews extinguished the fire before the county firefighters got to the scene. Despite the quick action by onsite workers, the tragic loss of an employee could not be prevented. Lena Freeman of Pascagoula says, "I just heard a loud explosion go ‘boom!’ When I went outside, it lit up the sky like it was daylight." The explosion happened around 2 a.m. on Friday. The fire was at a furnace in the cracking two area. Sarah Crear of Moss Point says, "The walls vibrated a little and it did scare us because I do have few friends that work at Chevron on the overnight crew, so I really was concerned." During the incident, one Chevron employee was killed: Tonya Graddy. Graddy has been an operator at the refinery for five years. Her coworkers called her Toni.
Tom Kovar, the General Manager at the Chevron Pascagoula Refinery, says, "This refinery is a big refinery. We have over 1,500 employees, but it's a family." This death marks the 5th fatality that the refinery has had in its 50 years of operation. Kovar also says, "It’s a very unfortunate event. Our hearts and prayers go to the entire family. It's a difficult time for all of us." The explosion happened on the day before the refinery was set to celebrate its 50th anniversary. In light of the tragic event, all anniversary events have been cancelled for the weekend. The last fatality at the refinery was in 2003. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the explosion.