Firefighters worked for about 50 hours to put out the blaze that started last week at an oil refinery in central Venezuela, state-owned oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA, said.

"At 11:45 p.m. local time (0415 GMT) on Friday night, the fire in fuel tank 170x5, located in the storage area at the El Palito Refinery (REP), produced by a lightning strike last Wednesday night, Sept. 19, was extinguished," PDVSA said in a statement released on Saturday.

"More than 200 brave and professional firefighters worked day and night for 50 hours ... until they finally put out the fire," PDVSA vice president for refining, marketing and distribution Asdrubal Chávez said.

The fire at El Palito occurred less than a month after an explosion caused by a gas leak started a blaze at the Amuay refinery in northwest Venezuela that burned for several days, destroying nearby buildings and killing at least 42 people.

The Amuay refinery, which has the capacity to process 645,000 barrels per day (bpd) of petroleum, is part of the Paraguana Refinery Complex, or CRP.

The explosion at the Amuay refinery on Aug. 25 damaged about 500 nearby buildings, setting off a fire that burned for four days and affected nine fuel tanks at the facility.

Oil and Mining Minister Rafael Ramirez, who is also CEO of PDVSA, said Thursday that the fire at El Palito was under control and the refinery was operating normally.

The government has found "no evidence" that the fire at El Palito, located in Puerto Cabello, Carabobo state, was the result of sabotage, President Hugo Chavez said Thursday.

"It is very strange," however, that the fire occurred so soon after the explosion at Amuay, Chavez said.

El Palito has the capacity to process about 135,000 bpd of petroleum, with some of the refinery's output going to the domestic market and the rest being exported. EFE