Multiple injuries in US oil refinery explosion: officials

Smoke from an explosion at the Husky Energy oil refinery in Superior, Wisconsin on April 26, 2018 is seen from across the lake in Duluth, Minnesota

Chicago (AFP) – Several people were injured by an explosion and fire at an oil refinery in the Midwestern US state of Wisconsin on Thursday, officials said.

The incident took place around 10:06 am (1506 GMT) at the Husky Energy oil refinery in the city of Superior, local fire chief Steve Panger said in a statement.

“There is a report of multiple casualties,” he said, adding that five people were “transported” from the scene. The severity of their injuries was not immediately clear.

Panger said fire crews were still on the scene although the blaze had been contained, and that there had been a secondary, smaller explosion.

But local media reported that the fire had reignited and multiple small, secondary explosions could be heard. 

Thick black plumes of smoke could be seen spreading across the sky, and the Duluth News Tribune reported that one of the refinery storage tanks was fractured. 

Cheryl Thielman, 58, who manages a mobile home park near the refinery, told AFP that the explosion was a “huge boom.”

“It shook the trailer park,” she said, at the time suspecting that “maybe a train had possibly derailed” at the nearby railroad tracks. 

John Anderson, an employee of Stadium Towing, which had workers near the site of the explosion, told AFP that emergency crews were clearing the scene. 

The refinery processes crude oil from the Canadian and North Dakota fields. It is owned by the Canadian firm Husky Energy, which purchased the refinery last year.

About 180 people are employed at the refinery, which processes about 2.3 million gallons of oil per day, according to the News Tribune.