Looking Back, Ahead Three Years After Husky Refinery Explosion Rocked Superior

Now three years to the day later officials with the Husky Refinery say rebuild is going well.

SUPERIOR, Wis.- It’s been three years to the day since the Husky Refinery exploded shaking the City Of Superior and forcing thousands to leave their homes and evacuate. Mayor Jim Paine looks back at the incident, as Husky says it’s on track for a full 2023 reopen

April 26th 2018 was turned upside down when the Refinery exploded. “We were actually having a conference call and all of a sudden it just went, a large ‘whoosh!’ just kind of a big boom in a way,” said one person who was at the University of Wisconsin- Superior at the time.

Multiple police, fire and disaster response crews from both Minnesota and Wisconsin sprang into action moments after the explosion

Smoke was reportedly seen from as far as Highway 61 along the North Shore to Cloquet.

“This crisis was escalating, there was a real risk to citizens in the city,” Superior Mayor Jim Paine said. “I’m glad that it’s in the rearview mirror.”

Nearly 30 thousand people were evacuated from Superior; an effort Mayor Jim Paine says could have been more disastrous had it not been for the first responders who kept it smooth.

“The reason this went as well as it did is because we have the most outstanding Fire Department in the United States, that’s not an exaggeration, that’s not hyperbole, they proved it that day,” said the Mayor.

Thousands of thousands of people fleeing the city, most of them in cars, that’s where the danger was, that’s where somebody was gonna get injured or killed,”

Now three years to the day later officials with the Husky Refinery say rebuild is going well.

This past year included a merger with Cenovus Energy, as well as a replacement for the Husky Energy Refinery’s massive vacuum column — a major piece used in separating the heaviest parts of crude oil into asphalt and other heavy fuel products.

“A lot of our work this year is gonna be focused above the ground,” said Gavin Hamilton, Senior Communications Manager for the Superior Refinery.

“You’re already seeing it now as you drive by the Refinery, ore towers and columns positioned into place, lots of steelwork, piping, cables, more towers, more excitement,” he said.

Throughout the rebuild process management says no one has been laid off. 500 employees are still on site helping. All employees re-hired will go through new updated training for new equipment and policies.

Officials say $950 million is being dedicated to the project. Re-open is still set for the first quarter of 2023, and some major hiring announcements will be made soon.

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