Superior, WI oil refinery fire extinguished, Evacuations remain in place
UPDATE at 7:40 PM Thursday (AP) – Authorities say a smoky refinery fire that forced many residents of Superior, Wisconsin, to evacuate is out.
Douglas County officials posted an update Thursday evening saying the fire is extinguished but asking residents in the evacuation area to stay away from their homes for at least another two hours.
An explosion rocked the Husky Energy oil refinery in Superior on Thursday morning. Authorities earlier said the fire was out, but it later reignited, sending up billowing clouds of thick, black smoke.
It was unclear how many people were being evacuated, but Superior Mayor Jim Paine said most of the city was being evacuated.
At least 11 people were hurt. Hospital officials said only one of the injured was seriously hurt, with what was described as a blast injury. No deaths were reported, and officials said all workers had been accounted for.
SUPERIOR, Wis. (KMSP) – Evacuations have been ordered in Superior, Wisconsin after an explosion and series of fires at the Husky Refinery. At least five people were transported to hospitals after an explosion at the oil refinery that was reported at 10:06 a.m. There have been no fatalities reported.
The initial fire was out and the scene was declared stable by 11:20 a.m., according to Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger. But a second fire erupted just after noon. Superior police ordered evacuations for a radius stretching 10 miles to the south, two miles to the north and three miles to the east and west of the refinery.
According to Fox 21 in Duluth, the explosion “could be felt from blocks away.”
The Superior Police Department described the situation as an “evolving scene” in a news release. An initial news release from the Superior Fire Department reported at least 20 “casualties,” but an updated release from Fire Chief Panger said “at least 6 transported – no report on severity of injuries.” The fire chief later confirmed five people were taken to hospitals in Duluth, Minnesota.
Multiple agencies have responded and rescue personnel are on scene and working to manage the incident. Superior Mayor Jim Paine said he was at fire headquarters and reported nearly all of the injured are accounted for and transported from the scene.
Calgary-based Husky Energy bought the refinery from Indianapolis-based Calumet Specialty Products Partners last year for more than $490 million. The Husky refinery is Wisconsin’s only oil refinery, producing gasoline, asphalt and other products.
“Husky Energy is responding to a fire at its Superior Refinery located in Superior, Wisconsin,” the company said in a statement. Emergency crews are on site and all workers have been accounted for. Husky’s first priority is the safety of its people, the community and emergency responders. There are injuries, which are being treated at hospital and on site. Regulatory authorities have been notified. Local air quality is being monitored. There is no danger to the public or local residents at this time. Further information will be provided as it becomes available.”
The product involved in the explosion and fire is believed to be crude oil or asphalt.
Husky Fire – Press Release 1: At approximately 10:06 today Superior Fire Department responded to a report of an explosion at Husky Refinery in Superior. There is a report of multiple casualties. Initial reports are at least 20 casualties transported. Multiple agencies have responded. More information to come when available.
Husky Fire – Press Release 2: At approximately 10:06 today Superior Fire Department responded to a report of an explosion at Husky Refinery in Superior. There is a report of multiple casualties. Initial reports are at least 6 transported – No report on severity of injuries. Multiple agencies have responded. Fire reported to be out. Reported a smaller tank explosion. Product is believe to be crude or asphalt. Walking wounded still be accounted for. Scene stable. More information to come.