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Wisconsin city evacuated after Husky Energy refinery fire
29 April 2018, 12:27 | Bernice Figueroa
Smoke rises from the Husky Energy oil refinery after an explosion and fire. AP
After an initial blaze was extinguished, a storage tank was punctured and a second fire erupted, a Husky Energy spokesman said, and another tank caught fire later.
All patients have been released, except one listed in good condition Friday morning. The city of about 27,000 people lifted the evacuation order as of 6 a.m. local time.
The EPA said it eventually shifted resources in the evening to monitor the community.
Tens of thousands of people living in the area were urged to evacuate their homes. "This was the nightmare scenario" for the city of 27,000 people, he said. They set up seven air quality monitoring stations around the city to measure volatile chemicals, particles and dust found in smoke, but officials say the levels are lower than normal meaning the air is safe to breathe. He said the immediate area of the explosion and the ensuring asphalt fire remained "very hot" on Friday, and that fire crews on loan from nearby Duluth, Minnesota, were still mopping up.
Mike Hoyt (left) and Dan Sertich of the Superior, Wis., Fire Department were among the more than 50 firefighters who responded to the explosion and fire Thursday at the Husky Energy refinery.
The EPA's air monitoring program hasn't turned up anything more than trace amounts of toxic chemicals, the EPA's Morrison said.
"Right now we have confirmation that that unit was not compromised whatsoever", he said. There is no danger to the public or local residents at this time.
"That's when we were going to release all the information about our full plan to deal with the hydrogen fluoride, which we were formulating all day and preparing for all day", Paine said. Crews were able to extinguish the fire at approximately 6:24 p.m. "So yes, it was important to be transparent about the risk to the public and what we were dealing with, but public safety comes first", he said.
The chemical can permanently damage the eyes, skin, nose, throat, respiratory system and bones, according to a 2013 report issued by the United Steelworkers union, which represents many refinery workers.
Panger says local authorities are working with federal agencies to determine the cause of the explosion and how to make improvements.
Calgary, Alberta-based Husky Energy bought the refinery from Indianapolis-based Calumet Specialty Products Partners past year for more than $490 million. It began, said refinery manager Schade, as a typical day.
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