Evacuation ordered as Superior refinery burns

At approximately 9:50 a.m. there was an explosion at the Husky Energy oil refinery in Superior. The initial fire was extinguished at 11:31 a.m., but a second fire erupted shortly after noon. The Duluth News Tribune reports there have been multiple explosions. An additional tank caught fire at 3:15 p.m.

All refinery personnel and contractors have been accounted for. There are no known fatalities. Conflicting reports indicate somewhere between six and 20 people injured.

Fox 21 News reports: “Five patients were taken to Essentia Health in Superior and five more to Essentia Health in Duluth. Of those five in Duluth, one person suffered a serious blast injury and the others had minor injuries. … Essentia Health–St. Mary’s Hospital in Superior was evacuated as a precaution and all Essentia facilities in Superior are closed because of the explosion.”

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has issued an evacuation of the area due to the potential toxic nature of the smoke. Anyone located 10 miles south of the Husky Energy refinery, or three miles east or west, or one mile north, are asked to evacuate. The Duluth Entertainment Convention Center and Four Corners Elementary School are the mustering points for evacuees. Four Corners School is located at 4465 E. County Road B in the Town of Superior.

The Duluth Entertainment Convention Center is accessible through Door D in the ticket lobby. Parking is free. Basic provisions are being provided, including cots and food through the Red Cross Northland. Pet sheltering is also available. Donations of food or water should be directed to the Red Cross at 218-722-0071.

Two general information lines are now available at 715-395-1231 and 715-395-1497 for people to call with questions.

Visit Duluth has put together a list of hotels offering discounted rates at visitduluth.com/emergencylodging.

There are two mustering areas for bus transportation for evacuees — 1101 Susquehanna Ave. and 1316 N. 14th St.

Story links:

Duluth News Tribune: “Explosion, fire at Husky refinery in Superior

WDIO Eyewitness News: “At least 20 casualties in Superior explosion

MPR News: “Multiple injuries reported in oil refinery explosion near Duluth

Duluth News Tribune: “Douglas County sheriff issues evacuation order after Superior refinery fire

MPR News: “Husky Energy refinery blast in Wisconsin: What we know now



about 6 years ago

Might want to reconsider that headline. From the DNT story- "Douglas County Deputy Medical Examiner Paul Stein told the News Tribune that he heard there are 20 injuries but no fatalities." What is PDD's source on there being deaths?


about 6 years ago

Perhaps it's Chief Panger's use of the term "casualties," the origin of which is military meaning BOTH wounded and killed. Total casualties in battle refers to the number of soldiers rendered unable to go back onto the field.

Paul Lundgren

about 6 years ago

Yes, yes. Casualties. Persons badly affected by an event or situation. Thank you, Tim. I've updated the story numerous times and am now using the word "injured."


about 6 years ago

15 is the official injury count now, the fire is no longer under control, worse than before and there is evacuation notice 10 miles south, 3 miles in every other direction.


about 6 years ago

Anyone know if there's a possibility of the wind changing to blow the plume over Duluth? I see a few forecast sites that mention the wind may reverse direction later tonight. :(

Helmut Flaag

about 6 years ago

BadCat brings up a good point here.  Folks wouldn't be merrily pontificating anything right now if the winds were out of the E/SE. Reminds me about an article I read recently on why gun control won't ever change until everyone is shot or knows someone who has been.  It talked about the three levels of experience during the London Blitz and how people were deeply affected if they were hit or had a very near miss, but felt a sense of drama and exhilaration if the shit happened just far enough away, i.e. a refinery explosion in Superior.  

Perhaps Don Henley said it best, "it's interesting when people die, we love dirty laundry."

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