SUPERIOR, Wis.—Police say an evacuation order has been lifted for a northwest Wisconsin city where a refinery explosion injured at least 11 people and sent billowing plumes of black smoke into the air.
Jim Paine, the Mayor of Superior, Wis., says all indications are that the refinery site is safe and stable, and that the air quality is normal.
A contractor who was inside the building told WDIO television that the explosion sounded like “a sonic boom” and that it happened when crews were working on shutting the plant down for repairs.
Authorities said late April 26 that the fire at the Husky Energy oil refinery was out, but that the evacuation for local residents remained. Superior has about 27,000 residents and shares a Lake Superior shipping port with nearby Duluth, Minnesota.
The evacuation order affected a five-kilometre radius around the refinery, as well as a 16-kilometre corridor south of it where the smoke was heading.
A convention centre in Minnesota opened to accept people forced from their homes by the smoky fire. Executive director Chelly Townsend says people were trickling in to the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center after doors opened late Thursday afternoon.
Townsend says the centre could comfortably handle 5,000 people, but could shelter up to 7,000 if needed.
The fire was put out earlier Thursday but it reignited, sending up thick clouds of noxious black smoke that could be seen for miles.
A four-person team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board will investigate the blast.
Owned by Alberta-based Husky Energy, Wisconsin’s only refinery produces gasoline, asphalt and other products.