Eleven injured in oil refinery fire in Wisconsin town of Superior

Refinery explosion in Superior, Wis., injures at least 20

The explosion happened about 10 a.m. Thursday at the refinery owned by Calgary, Alberta-based Husky Energy, prompting authorities to evacuate a 3-mile (5-kilometer) radius around the plant, as well as a sparsely populated 10-mile (16-kilometer) corridor south of it where the plume of smoke extended for miles.

A spokeswoman for St. Luke's, which operates two hospitals in the area, said it was treating one injured patient, but did not provide details on that person's condition. Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger has said there are no known fatalities.

Authorities said Friday they believe there's no further danger to the public in northwestern Wisconsin after an oil refinery explosion injured at least 13 people and sent billowing plumes of black smoke into the air.

The blast at the oil refinery happened at about 10 a.m.

A spokesperson for Essentia Health said 11 people were transported to hospitals in Duluth and Superior. It was followed by multiple subsequent explosions and a spreading fire that appeared to burn out of control inside the refinery complex - spewing thick black smoke high up into the sky. Large clouds of smoke were seen coming from the refinery.

Authorities said they have no timeline yet for getting the fire extinguished.

Six people were injured and taken to hospitals, along with several "walking wounded" treated at the scene, Superior Mayor Jim Paine told a news conference.

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Police and Douglas County officials on Thursday evening posted they were allowing residents to return to their homes but asking them to wait at least two hours before doing so.

Still, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced it was opening an investigation into the company's safety practices, the second time the agency has looked into the refinery in three years. Three schools and St. Mary's Hospital in Superior were being evacuated as a precaution.

Police blocked roads around the refinery.

Most of Superior was covered by the order.

A contractor who was inside the building told WDIO television that the explosion sounded like "a sonic boom" that happened when crews were working on shutting the plant down for repairs.

Husky Energy of Calgary, Alberta, bought the refinery a year ago for $492 million. It's Wisconsin's only refinery, and produces gasoline, asphalt and other products. The Superior Fire Department later updated that number to five.

The refinery, which can process up to 38,000 barrels of oil a day, had additional workers on site preparing for a plant-wide overhaul, he said.

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