Explosion rocks Superior, WI refinery, injuries reported

Refinery explosion in Superior, Wis., injures at least 20

Refinery explosion in Superior, Wis., injures at least 20

Crews were able to extinguish the original fire just under 90 minutes after it was reported at 10:06 a.m., but a second fire erupted again shortly after noon in another asphalt tank that firefighters said was increasingly hard to put out.

There were no immediate reports of fatalities, and Duvall said all of the refinery's workers had been accounted for.

The US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board has sent a four-person team to investigate. It was followed by multiple subsequent explosions and a spreading fire that appeared to burn out of control inside the refinery complex - spewing thick black smoke high up into the sky. At least 11 people were being treated at hospitals in Superior and nearby Duluth, Minnesota.

A spokeswoman for St. Luke's, which operates two hospitals in the area, said it was treating one injured patient, but did not provide details on that person's condition. Superior police later said that the fire had reignited and urged residents living within a one-mile radius of the refinery to leave.

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Refinery officials said the smoke plume was caused by burning asphalt, and that it burned so hot that fire crews could not get near it to extinguish it. "When you see that kind of smoke, it means you're getting a lot of unburned hydrocarbons".

Essentia Health spokesperson Maureen Talarico said five patients were being treated at St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth.

Refinery manager Kollin Schade said six injured workers were taken to hospitals and seven others were treated at the scene following Thursday's explosion.

Panger did not know the severity of the injuries.

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Authorities in Superior say the explosion at the Husky Energy oil refinery happened at about 10 a.m. Thursday. Police blocked roads around the refinery in Superior, which is home to about 27,000 people and borders Minnesota to the north and the tip of Lake Superior.

A contractor who was inside the building told WDIO-TV that the explosion sounded like "a sonic boom".

Authorities said late Thursday that the fire at the Husky Energy oil refinery was out. The Superior Fire Department later updated that number to five. It produces asphalt, gasoline, diesel, and heavy fuel oils, mainly using heavy crude oil imported from Canada.

The refinery had been fined by federal officials several years ago under its previous owners.

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The refinery, which Husky Energy purchased a year ago, processes crude oil from Canadian and North Dakota fields. It processes both heavy crude from the Canadian tar sands in Alberta and lighter North Dakota Bakken crude.

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