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Posted on March 3rd, 2015

FirstLook Crisis Event – Refinery Explosion in Torrance, California

Timing is everything when it comes to a crisis, whether it’s local or global; and fast, reliable, high-resolution imagery is an important part of the puzzle as is offered in the FirstLook Crisis Event service. Since looking at the post-event imagery only goes so far, FirstLook adds pre-event imagery to help with the before and after analysis.

What’s makes an event worthy of collecting imagery? Great question. Events can range in type from natural disasters to human-made events, and from political unrest to human interests.

How do I access the imagery? Another great question. You access the imagery several ways, including: My DigitalGlobe (a password protected web viewer), Web Map Service (WMS), Web Map Tile Service (WMTS), EarthService or via an OGC-compliant software plug-in.

A before image of the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, CA imaged on July, 13, 2014 by the 50-cm color satellite, WorldView-2. (Image Courtesy: DigitalGlobe)
An after image of the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, CA imaged two days after the explosion on February 20, 2015 by the 50-cm color satellite, WorldView-2. (Image Courtesy: DigitalGlobe)

The photos below demonstrate the before and after damage of an explosion that occurred on February 18, 2015 at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, California. The facility, a structure several stories tall, was completely shattered.

The ExxonMobil refinery, about 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, covers 750 acres, employs over a thousand people and processes an average of 155,000 barrels of crude oil per day to produce 1.8 billion gallons of gasoline per year.

FirstLook Product Specifications

  • Data Sources: WorldView-2, GeoEye-1 and WorldView-1
  • Resolution:  50-cm
  • Imagery Band Combinations Offered: panchromatic, natural color and NIR (for fire events)
  • Access:  OGC streaming services (i.e. WMS, WMST, WCS and WFS), Google Earth streaming services (i.e. EarthService), ArcGIS plugin (i.e. ImageConnect), online portal (i.e.
  • Geographic Subscriptions Offered:  global, regional or per event
  • Event Collection Durations: 15 days or 30 days
  • Subscription Term:  annual

To find out which subscription option is best for you and to schedule a demo of the service, please feel free to reach out to me directly at

Robert O’Munneke
Chief of Sales
(703) 304-6425

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