An evacuation order was lifted early this morning after a Wisconsin oil refinery caught fire Thursday.
The Associated Press reported that a tanker containing crude oil or asphalt exploded around 10 a.m. on Thursday, April 26 at the Husky Energy oil refinery in Superior, WI. What started as an explosion quickly turned into a bigger situation throughout the day leading to evacuations within a three-mile radius of the refinery, as well as a 10-mile corridor south where smoke was heading.
The evacuation order was lifted by 6 a.m. on Friday.
According to reports, 15 people were injured and 11 were hospitalized. Officials said one person was being treated for “serious blast injuries”. Husky Energy officials say 181 employees work at the refinery.
“Through this emergency, agencies responded with the highest degree of professionalism, and downright courage,” Superior Mayor Jim Paine said. “We got through this without a single fatality. And our community responded by helping each other and looking out for one another."
A contractor who was at the facility at the time of the explosion said crews were working on shutting the plant down for repairs. He said it sounded like a “sonic boom”. It is unknown at this time what caused the initial explosion. Husky Energy said an investigation into the cause will start immediately.
Firefighters has contained the first fire around 11 a.m. on Thursday, however a second, larger, blaze broke out just after noon and another tank caught fire at 3:15 p.m.
An evacuation order was put into effect around 1 p.m. due to the risk of the hydrofluoric acid affecting people. However, Superior Fire Battalion Chief Scott Gordon said crews were able to isolate that material, and it did not catch on fire.