Wisconsin Oil Refinery Fire Injures at Least 15

Husky Energy, a Canadian company based in Alberta, said all the refinery's workers have been accounted for and no fatalities have been reported.

An explosion occurred Thursday at an oil refinery in Superior, Michigan, and nearby residents were evacuated.

After an initial blaze, a storage tank was punctured, and a second fire erupted, Husky Energy spokesman Mel Duvall said. However, shortly after 12 p.m., the fire reignited, sending large clouds of black smoke into the air.

Superior Mayor Jim Paine said during a news conference Friday that his community is getting back to normal. Hospital officials said only one was seriously hurt, with what was described as a blast injury.

Schade said the refinery's first priority is to secure the facility, and then assess it to understand "what we have to work with". Friday classes were canceled in Superior and nearby Maple school districts, also as a precaution, officials said. The refinery is in an industrial area, but there's a residential neighborhood within a mile to the northeast. The fire Thursday was later put out, and residents were told they could return to their homes.

"It felt like a truck hit the building", she said.

Husky Energy refinery manager Kollin Schade said Friday that two others, an employee and a contractor, were hospitalized overnight but were expected to be released soon.

On Saturday, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reported that air quality in the area was "improving".

Roth said the fire did not spread to the huge Enbridge crude oil terminal across the street. The DNR, EPA and the Superior refinery will continue to monitor the situation for any possible changes. Fire officials say the fire may have been fueled by asphalt.

In 2008, Murphy Oil paid a fine of $179,100 to settle more than 30 federal safety violations, according to the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Murphy sold it to Calumet Specialty Products in 2011 for $435 million, and Calumet sold it to Calgary-based Husky a year ago for $492 million.

In 2015, when Calumet was owner, OSHA issued four citations to the refinery, three of them for serious violations involving flammable and combustible liquids, hazardous waste operations and emergency response.

  • Jon Douglas