Wisconsin refinery fire that injured at least 11 people is out, authorities say

Officials order area to evacuate

Authorities say a smoky refinery fire that injured at least 11 people and forced many residents of Superior 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.

Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger initially told The Associated Press that six were taken to hospitals in nearby Duluth, Minnesota, after the explosion Thursday at the Husky Energy oil refinery. The Superior Fire Department later updated that number to five.

The fire chief says there are no known fatalities. The fire is out. At least 11 people were injured in the Thursday morning blast. A spokeswoman for Essentia Health says one person was seriously injured, while another nine being treated at Essentia hospitals in Superior and nearby Duluth, Minnesota, have non-life-threatening injuries.

A four-person team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board will investigate. The board makes safety recommendations after serious chemical incidents.

LIVE: Officials provide update on Husky Energy refinery explosions in Superior

Posted by WISC-TV / Channel 3000 on Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Duluth News Tribune reported that the initial explosion was at about 10 a.m., and a second round of several additional explosions occurred at about 12:30 p.m.

Superior police said Douglas County Emergency Management has ordered the area evacuated at about 1 p.m. People 2 miles to the north, 3 miles to the east and west, and 10 miles to the south of the refiner were told to evacuate immediately.

Officials said community members could be out of their homes for several days. A convention center in Minnesota has opened to accept people forced from their homes. Schools in Superior and nearby Maple, Wisconsin, have called off classes Friday.

Evacuees are being told to gather at Yellowjacket Union at the University of Wisconsin-Superior or at Four Corners Elementary School in Superior.

It isn’t clear how many people the evacuation order will effect. The refinery is in an industrial area, but there’s a residential neighborhood within a mile to the northeast. The corridor downwind to the south is sparsely populated.

A contractor who was inside the building told WDIO television that the explosion sounded like “a sonic boom” and that it happened when crews were working on shutting the plant down for repairs.

Owned by Alberta-based Husky Energy, Wisconsin’s only refinery produces gasoline, asphalt and other products.