Multiple injuries reported in explosion at Wisconsin oil refinery

Multiple injuries reported in explosion at Wisconsin oil refinery

An explosion at Husky Energy's refinery in Superior, Wisconsin, injured at least 10 people, sent smoke billowing into the sky and prompted an evacuation of tens of thousands of residents, local and medical officials said on Thursday.

Schools in Superior and nearby Maple, Wisconsin, have called off classes Friday.

At a 3 p.m. news conference, Paine said everyone within a 3-mile radius of the refinery should evacuate and stay out.

At least 11 people were hurt in the explosion, one seriously.

"St. Luke's has set up an incident command center and we are fully prepared to receive patients from the explosion at the refinery in Superior. It was a stressful moment", she said.

There was no immediate evacuation order, but by lunchtime, they had to go.

The black smoke is caused by the asphalt burning, and environmental groups are monitoring air quality. "We threw our dogs in [Johnson's] auto". I put the cats in my auto, ... we grabbed our toothbrushes and just left.

Panger said the fire was out by 11:20 a.m.

We'll have more information as it becomes available.

Tudor, a scientist at a research company, said residents haven't been told much about the potential danger, what is in the smoke or why it is so black.

Though it wasn't certain what was in the tank that burned, oil smoke can contain a mix of noxious hydrocarbons and other chemicals with potential short- and long-term health effects.

National Weather Service radar showed the smoke plume extending south-southeast, taking it into sparsely populated areas. Superior schools Superintendent Janna Stevens said late Thursday afternoon that all students were either home safe with their families or were on their way home. The city of 27,000 would be evacuated as needed, he said.

Calgary-Alberta-based Husky Energy refinery bought the refinery from Indianapolis-based Calumet Specialty Products Partners previous year for over $490 million.

Officials at Enbridge Energy, which owns a massive oil pipeline terminal and storage facility with millions of gallons of petroleum products stored near the refinery, said their facility was not impacted. The violations were settled and the problems resolved by the end of that year. Calumet Superior operates as a subsidiary of Calumet Specialty Products Partners, which sold the plant to Husky Energy past year. About 50,000 barrels - or 2.3 million gallons - of oil per day can be processed at the refinery, located at 2407 Stinson Ave.

The refinery processes crude oil from the Canadian and North Dakota fields.