Update: Calumet Oil Refinery Explosion, Fire

Operations Now Running As Normal

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A cause has not yet been determined for Tuesday’s fire at Calumet Oil Refinery.

What officials do know, is that an asphalt tank, about 28 feet tall and 24 feet wide, exploded.

The tank was empty, which officials say makes it more likely for an explosion like this to take place.

Battalion Chief Scott Gordon, with the Superior Fire Department says, all things considered, a lot went well Tuesday.

A few things include the fact that the explosion happened in the afternoon, the lack of wind, and that it was in an area easily accessible to rescue squads.

But, perhaps, the luckiest thing was the timing.

“We’ve been training monthly and it just so happens that last week we had training with our management,” explained Gordon. “We got to get things set up from a management stand point right away, there was no confusion. Everyone that was in that class last week was also on duty at that time.”

Gordon says the Superior Fire Department trains monthly with Calumet in preparation for incidents like this.

Oil fires are not put out with water, but instead using a dry–chemical agent called Purple K, supplied by Calumet.

“When we put out house fires, the house is burning, you can see the house, you can touch the house. When you have a hydro–carbon product in there, you can’t put it out with water,” Gordon said.

The investigation began Wednesday, with members from both Calumet and The Superior Fire Department working on determining a source of ignition.

Wednesday, operations at Calumet were up and running as normal. 

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