Refinery explosion shakes Saint John residents

An explosion and fire at the Irving Oil Refinery shook the city of Saint John on Monday morning.

There were several reports of an explosion at approximately 10:15 a.m.. at the Irving Oil refinery in the city's east end.

Several residents reported on Facebook and Twitter they could feel the blast for miles away.

The ensuing fire sent plumes of thick black smoke into the sky.

Irving Oil confirmed that there was a "major incident" at their refinery.

"We are actively assessing the situation at this time and will share more information when available," the company said in a tweet sent out at 10:58 a.m. on Monday.

At noon, the Saint John Regional Hospital confirmed that they are on "Orange Alert" they say that means mass casualty either outside or inside the hospital.

Bernard Cormier, a retired city staffer, said on Twitter that "Some of the workers at the Irving Oil Refinery that we know have reported they are okay. They are at a muster station across the street."

There is an unconfirmed report that the neighbourhood of Champlain Heights is being evacuated. Saint John police are asking people to avoid the area.

They closed following streets: Loch Lomond at Commerce, Grandview at Champlain, Grandview at Bayside, and Loch Lomond at Macdonald.