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Home / US / Fire Out, evacuation orders lifted after explosions at Superior Oil Refinery

Fire Out, evacuation orders lifted after explosions at Superior Oil Refinery



On Friday morning, in a Superior Group oil refinery, there were fires that were shattered by explosions and consumed by fire most of the day. The arson caused district and local officials to declare a state of emergency and order evacuations that remained in force until 6:00 am Friday morning. Several people were sent to nearby hospitals.

When black clouds were blowing from the refinery, firefighters had been involved in a race with the fires since the first one broke out on Thursday morning at the Husky Energy Refinery. This fire was largely included, but again around noon prompted Douglas County Emergency Management officials to order evacuations later Thursday afternoon. They continued to expand the evacuation zone throughout the day.

Senior city officials finally declared a state of emergency.

At least 11 people were injured in an explosion at the refinery on Thursday morning, a serious one.

In the early evening, Lord Mayor Jim Paine said that the fire in the smoldering refinery had been extinguished, but that the evacuation system remained in place. He warned that the fires could rekindle.


A cloud of dark smoke rises on Thursday from the refinery fire. Bob King / Duluth Newsstand

These concerns were later recognized when Chief of the High Fire Battalion, Scott Gordon, reported at 21.00. News conference that a fire was restarted but was included. He said that it is not surprising that a secondary fire breaks out, as it is very common when there is so much heat.

"It's a relatively small fire, it's a flammable liquid that will not shut down the valve you've isolated it, so there's very little risk of the fire getting bigger and going, so we have Still having crews on the stage, we have fresh crews here ready to replace the crews who were there all day, Gordon said.

He said fire was allowed to burn.

Officials repeated that an emergency and evacuation order remains in force until the crews are convinced they can lift it.

Husky Energy Refinery Manager Kollin Schade said the exact cause of the fire remains unknown, but Lieutenant-Colonel Steve Panger said earlier in the day When he received reports of a small tank explosion containing asphalt or crude, Schade said he would not challenge or confirm any earlier reports.

"We need a full review make the system itself. This task will begin tomorrow, "he said.

Reports of an explosion from a tank of asphalt or crude oil came on Thursday morning Thursday, the Fire Chief Commander Steve Panger said there were reports of several fatalities and at least five people However, he said there were no deaths and there was no immediate report of the severity of the injuries.

Refinery officials say that after fire breaks out, the investigation begins

Earlier in the evening Schade said that public safety is employing the entire refinery.


Black liquor is pouring from a tank at the refinery on Thursday. Bob King / Duluth Newsstand

"There are dangers in the refinery, not just with the refinery Asphalt, but also with other components that we need to make special arrangements, "he said We have developed technical standards to address any concerns. "

Schade said they would start working with all the regulators to understand what happened at the refinery.

Schade said they had water curtains This work was developed to protect workers and the public during such an incident.

"It worked perfectly up to this point, so we are very happy with it," Schade said. "That's why they're designed and that's why they're designed specifically for such disasters."

Gordon said firefighters had isolated the tank with hydrofluoric acid and used foam to combat the fire.

Paine said these are still worrisome about the air quality and the release of hydrofluoric acid.

"In case this was the case, we had the necessary resources to treat all the victims and there is also a risk of being in the plume of smoke You are in the plume, there is at least some health risk" Paine said. "We're working with the (Environmental Protection Agency) and the US Environmental Protection Agency to determine exactly what the health risk is, and once we have that statement, we'll publish it, but you do not want to get rid of the smoke." [19659002] Earlier in the day, Schade said agencies are on-site to run an air monitoring plan to make sure the air is safe. Douglas County CEO Mark Liebaert said he considers EPA one of those agencies.

The Associated Press reported that a four-member team of the US Chemical Safety Committee would investigate. The panel gives safety recommendations after serious chemical incidents.

Fire Demands Evacuations

While teams fought against the fires, city and county officials took steps to evacuate city dwellers on Thursday afternoon.


Danielle Kaeding / WPR

Refinery personnel evacuated the area and schools of the Superior School District were evacuated and all extra-curricular activities were canceled, according to the school's Facebook page.

The University of Wisconsin Superior began evacuating the campus shortly after 4 pm and planned to bring students to the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth to stay overnight. The university had canceled Thursday and Friday classes as well as extracurricular activities.

"We are evacuating because there is a tank of products there that, if they break, could form a spring that could be dangerous to health," said Douglas County Emergency Management Director Keith Kesler. "We modeled some feather clouds with the wind and the stuff, so we developed the evacuation zone that we set up in case the tank bursts."

Kesler, who appeared at 10 o'clock on the scene: 30 o'clock on Thursday, said the tank contains hydrofluoric acid, a strong inorganic acid used primarily for industrial purposes, but can cause serious health effects in people exposed to the chemical , according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Paine said early Thursday evening, he believed the biggest risk was an unsafe or disorderly evacuation.

"We want to get people to Duluth right now (Duluth Entertainment Convention Center), this is our main evacuation point and safe as possible," Paine said, adding, "In case of doubt, get out."

Earlier In the evening, Paine said the entire city of 27,000 could potentially be evacuated. The city coordinated a response to provide residents with the Red Cross and the city of Duluth.

Gov. Scott Walker should come to Superior, and government officials are on standby to get all the resources they need, Paine said.

Liebaert said the emergency declaration was a precautionary measure.

"We are in no danger of time," he said.

In a press release, Husky Energy said, "All workers have been taken into account."

"Husky's top priority is the safety of its people, the community, and the emergency services," the statement reads. "There are injuries that are treated in the hospital and on-site, the regulators have been notified, and local air quality is monitored."

Firefighters engaged Blaze

At 6 pm, firefighters had withdrawn and remained in a defensive mode said firefighters.

Battalion chief Gordon said earlier that they did not aggressively fight the fire because they were waiting for enough resources to destroy it completely.

"Until we've decided We can do that with positive results, we will not do that, we'll stay defensive," said Gordon. "Right now, there are crews on the ground who keep everything quiet and try to keep the fire from getting any bigger."

The firefighters were only a few hundred feet from the fire, Gordon said, and water came from the sides to cool the tanks. Gordon said they worked with Duluth firefighters and they had recruited external agencies and industrial firefighting specialists, especially from Texas.

Gordon said it was possible that the fire could take days and they put together a list of personnel and equipment of what they need to fight the fire.

Fire started Thursday morning

Chief police chief Nick Alexander said that his department received a report on a refinery fire at 10:05 pm on Thursday] "In general, fires that have the potential to scale up In terms of a refinery, where there are flammable materials, and so on, we basically respond to supporting the fire department and controlling access to the area, people who go into a potentially unsafe area, "Alexander said. [19659002] Jeff Johnson from Poplar worked at Petro Choice in Superior, which is off the refinery road, and Johnson described the sound of the first fire as a massive object breaking into the building.

"I was in our warehouse. There was a big explosion and I do not know what happened, "Johnson said." I went into the office, looked outside, looked at Husky and saw a lot of black smoke, and we just started to evacuate and went to the Mariner Mall. "

People near the refinery said they had heard and felt the explosion.

The only Wisconsin-based refinery in Alberta produces gasoline, asphalt, and other products.


View of the smoke, The Husky Energy Refinery in Superior, Wisconsin, breaks out after a fire on April 26, 2018. Olivia Shalaby / WPR


An ambulance is driving towards a Husky Energy refinery after Thursday, April 26, 2018 , an explosion was reported at the Refinery in Superior. Danielle Kaeding / WPR

Danielle Kaeding, Andrea Anderson, John K. Wilson, Olivia Shalaby and David Hyland have contributed to this report.

Editor's Note: This story was originally published on Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 10:30.


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