Wisconsin refinery evacuated after explosions and series of fires

SUPERIOR, Wis. – Evacuations have been ordered in Superior, Wisconsin after an explosion and series of fires at the Husky Refinery. At least five people were transported to hospitals after an explosion at the oil refinery that was reported at 10:06 a.m. There have been no fatalities reported.

The initial fire was out and the scene was declared stable by 11:20 a.m., according to Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger. But a second fire erupted just after noon. Superior police ordered evacuations for a radius stretching 10 miles to the south and three miles to the north, east and west of the refinery.

According to Fox 21 in Duluth, the explosion “could be felt from blocks away.”

he Superior Police Department described the situation as an “evolving scene” in a news release. An initial news release from the Superior Fire Department reported at least 20 “casualties,” but an updated release from Fire Chief Panger said “at least 6 transported – no report on severity of injuries.” The fire chief later confirmed five people were taken to hospitals in Duluth, Minnesota.

Multiple agencies have responded and rescue personnel are on scene and working to manage the incident. Superior Mayor Jim Paine said he was at fire headquarters and reported nearly all of the injured are accounted for and transported from the scene.

Calgary-based Husky Energy bought the refinery from Indianapolis-based Calumet Specialty Products Partners last year for more than $490 million. The Husky refinery is Wisconsin’s only oil refinery, producing gasoline, asphalt and other products.

“Husky Energy is responding to a fire at its Superior Refinery located in Superior, Wisconsin,” the company said in a statement. Emergency crews are on site and all workers have been accounted for. Husky’s first priority is the safety of its people, the community and emergency responders. There are injuries, which are being treated at hospital and on site. Regulatory authorities have been notified. Local air quality is being monitored. There is no danger to the public or local residents at this time. Further information will be provided as it becomes available.”

The product involved in the explosion and fire is believed to be crude oil or asphalt.