"At that instant, the whole house shook as if it were an earthquake," she said. "The windows went flying off with their frames and everything."
Electricity was knocked out, leaving Romero in the dark and her house filled with smoke. She found a flashlight and started looking for her husband and three children.
Outside on the street, the family saw scattered hunks of brick walls and ruins of a National Guard post and about 20 other homes. Bodies were being pulled from buildings down the street.
At least 86 people were injured, nine of them seriously, Health Minister Eugenia Sader said at a hospital where the wounded were taken. She said 77 people suffered light injuries and were released.
Flames reaching nearly 100 feet into the night air still crackled almost 20 hours after the explosion occurred, giving off searing heat felt by the residents of the neighborhood located approximately 1,000 feet from the refinery.
"This does not seem to be getting any better, I see and feel more and more flames," said Francisco Rojas, a 29-year-old taxi driver from the neighborhood as he loaded some of his belongings into a truck.
"I have a young daughter and my wife, and we don't want to take the risk of dying here," Rojas added.
Officials said firefighters had largely controlled the fire at the refinery on the Paraguana Peninsula, where flames were still visible on Saturday night after billowing dark smoke all day.
The blast occurred about 1:15 a.m. when a natural gas leak created a cloud that ignited, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said.
"That gas generated a cloud that later exploded and has caused fires in at least two tanks of the refinery and surrounding areas," Ramirez said.
Images shortly after the explosion showed the flames casting an orange glow against the night sky, and injured survivors on a stretcher and in a wheelchair. The bloodied bodies of victims were loaded onto pickup trucks.