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Refinery Explosion in Superior Injures 11, Prompts Evac

Posted By Arnold & Itkin || 27-Apr-2018

Late Thursday morning, Wisconsin's sole refinery exploded and left 11 people injured—with at least one of them suffering serious injuries. We reported on the refinery explosion yesterday when the injury count was at 5. Now, reports from the scene say that nearly a dozen workers were hurt, and an evacuation order was initially issued for a 1-mile radius.

According to Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger, the fire following the explosion was extinguished within 90 minutes of the explosion, but it reignited and sent large plumes of black smoke into the air. Douglas County issued an update last night saying that though the fire was out, residents should stay away from the area for a few more hours.

The evacuation order eventually expanded to include the three miles surrounding the refinery, as well as any buildings south of the refinery for a 10-mile corridor. Homes, 3 schools, and a hospital were among the buildings evacuated.

"It Smelled Like Burning Tires"

"It felt like something had hit the house, like a vehicle or a branch from a tree. ... Our dogs started barking. It was a stressful moment," said Julia Johnson, a woman who lives two miles from the refinery and experienced the explosion firsthand. She initially thought the sonic boom was a plane crash.

The evacuation order came two hours later, as police went door to door to tell residents to leave the area.

"It was scary," Kara Tudor, another resident, said. "We threw our dogs in her car. I put the cats in my car, ... we grabbed our toothbrushes and just left. ... We were mostly focused on the pets because it smelled like burning tires outside and we knew that wasn't a good smell."

Superior, a town of 27,000 people, has experienced toxic disasters before. In 1992, a large load of benzene gas (carried by train) covered the region in a blue haze, prompting an evacuation of 30,000 people.

Categories: Refinery Explosions

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