On the day of the Husky Energy oil refinery explosion, fire, ecological disaster in Superior, I didn’t panic. I didn’t even find out until nearly 5 p.m. And when I did, I turned on the TV and let the coverage flow as background noise.
Later, I talked to friends who were anywhere from anxious to panicked. I’ve been thinking about why my response was so different.
“I am lifting the evacuation order at 6 a.m. this morning,” Superior Mayor Jim Paine wrote on Facebook. “All indications are that the refinery site is safe and stable and the air quality is clean and normal. Welcome home.”
The city of Duluth has lifted last night’s precautionary shelter-in-place advisory for the western neighborhoods.
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.