Explosions, Fire Rock Superior Wisconsin
Posted on: April 27, 2018
The St. Louis River Estuary
A view over the St. Louis River estuary between Superior, Wisc. and Duluth, Minn. with the fire at the Husky refinery in the distance. In 1987, the estuary was designated as one of 43 Great Lakes environmental “Areas of Concern.” Cleanup is ongoing and substantial progress has been made. Image curtesy of Michael Osborn, owner of Divine Chaos Clique Photography.
Smoke billowed up from a Husky-owned oil refinery in Wisconsin on Thursday April, 26. Image curtesy of Michael Osborn, owner of Divine Chaos Clique Photography.

An explosion at Wisconsin’s only oil refinery resulted in the evacuation of communities within a 3-mile radius and 10 mile corridor South of the blast location. The explosion ignited the contents of one of the refinery tanks, which created a massive amount of toxic smoke. Luckily for Lake Superior, northerly winds spread the smoke south of the refinery away from the lake.

 

Smoke continued to rise and spread from the refinery for several hours Thursday, as it was blown south by northerly winds. Image courtesy of Michael Osborn, owner of Divine Chaos Clique Photography.

 

The plume was large enough, and thick enough with particulate matter, to be captured on radar by National Weather Service Duluth:

The tank contained either crude oil or asphalt. When such oil products undergo combustion, they release gaseous chemicals and carcinogenic particulate matter. Three schools and one hospital were evacuated because of the noxious smoke.

Road blocks were set up to keep people away from the caustic fumes. Image courtesy of Michael Osborn, owner of Divine Chaos Clique Photography.

The explosion occurred around 10am Thursday, April 26. The fire was extinguished by 11:20am but later reignited before being completely extinguished by late Thursday. The evacuation order was lifted just before 6am Friday, April 27. 11 people were injured, one with serious blast injuries.

Related: Chemical Raises Concern in Wake of Superior Refinery Explosion, Fire

More Images Courtesy of Michael Osborn and Sheila Lamb

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