Evacuation area expands near Wisconsin refinery

Evacuation area expands near Wisconsin refinery

Evacuation area expands near Wisconsin refinery

Investigators on Friday searched for the cause of a blast at a Husky Energy refinery that injured at least 10 people and rocked a northern Wisconsin city, sending smoke billowing into the sky and prompting tens of thousands to evacuate.

Authorities said a fire at a northwestern Wisconsin refinery where an explosion injured at least 11 people was out and people were being allowed back in their homes Thursday night after most of the city of Superior was forced to evacuate.

Winds coming from the north have spread smoke from the fire across a large swath of land extending at least 10 miles south of the blaze, with some reports of smoke spotted in the village of Solon Springs almost 30 miles to the south.

"If in doubt ... just leave". Schools and a hospital also were evacuated. The fire Thursday was later put out, and residents were told they could return to their homes.

The weather service said the winds were expected to weaken late Thursday and shift toward Lake Superior.

Burning asphalt at the Husky Energy refinery in Superior, Wisconsin, has prompted the evacuation of much of the town of about 27,000.

A spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services referred questions to local officials in Douglas County, who could not be reached for comment.

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Residents who evacuated and needed shelter gathered at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center as the primary site.

In a news release, Husky Energy said all of the workers have been accounted for. It produces gasoline, asphalt and other petroleum products primarily for northern markets. U.S. Department of Labor spokesman Scott Allen said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Calumet Superior LLC $21,000 over emergency response and flammable liquids violations in 2015. Those violations were marked as settled and the problems solved by the end of that year.

It was unclear how severe the reported injuries were and exactly how many of those people were transported to the hospital for treatment.

Calgary-Alberta-based Husky Energy refinery bought the refinery from Indianapolis-based Calumet Specialty Products Partners a year ago for over $490 million.

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

But the oil at the charred refinery isn't where Madisonians get their gas.

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