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Refinery fire now out

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Air quality still being monitored

By Heather Rutz and Kate Ellis
news@the419.com

updated at 6:37 a.m., 7:11 a.m., 7:29 a.m., 7:41 a.m., 7:56 a.m., 8:13 a.m., 8:26 a.m., 9 a.m., and 4:38 p.m.

LIMA – A fire at Husky Lima Refinery that caused a 6 a.m. blast felt for miles was essentially out by 3:15 p.m. Saturday, Husky officials confirmed.

“We are allowing some product to burn off under control. We continue to monitor to ensure there are no flare ups,” Husky spokesman Mel Duval said. “At this time, it is too early to say what the impact will be on the refinery’s production.”

As a precaution, Husky advised nearby residents if they encounter soot or debris in their yard or on the house, that they contact the refinery at 419 226-2300. Do not handle this; Husky is prepared to address the material.

Air quality has been continuously monitored by Allen County Hazmat and the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, as well as by representatives of Husky, Russ Decker, director of the Allen County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, said. No toxic chemicals have been found; however the EPA will continue to monitor the area.

Sirens did not sound earlier today because there was no need for evacuation, Decker said. The only effect to the community was the noise and smoke, which was not life threatening.

Matthew Horn, an Allen County React team member, keeps a driver from crossing the Collett Street bridge near the refinery. Photo: Seth Herald

Matthew Horn, an Allen County React team member, keeps a driver from crossing the Collett Street bridge near the refinery. Photo: Seth Herald

The Northern Indiana office of the U.S. National Weather Service reported Saturday the plume of smoke caused by the fire could be seen from space by weather satellite. The plume extended northeast toward Findlay.

One person was injured shortly after the blast and taken to St. Rita’s Medical Center.

All roads leading to and around the refinery were re-opened at 1 p.m. A perimeter was set up around the petro-chemical complex as crews rerouted traffic.
Shawnee Township Fire Department and the refinery’s emergency response team responded to the fire. Department Platoon Chief and public information officer John Norris said the department prepares for such fires.

“We take a proactive stance, and train religiously on shift and with the refinery and other industry partner response teams to practice for incidents like this,” Norris said.

Some neighbors in the immediate area around the refinery reported that the blast shattered windows, the Allen County EMA said. They can call Husky with a claim. To do so, call Husky’s main number at 419-226-2300.

Just before 8 a.m., Husky Refinery released a statement about the fire:
“At approximately 6 a.m. this morning the refinery experienced a fire on one of its processing units. Emergency crews from the refinery and Allen County are on site managing the fire.
All personnel are accounted for and there have been no injuries. There has been one minor injury at the refinery that is unrelated to the fire. Our focus at the present time in is on managing the event and ensuring the safety of our employees and the public.”

Crews are responding to a fire in a cracker at Husky Lima Refinery today. Photo courtesy of Shawnee Township Fire Department

Crews respond to a fire in a cracker Saturday at Husky Lima Refinery. Photo courtesy of Shawnee Township Fire Department

Within the same complex, PCS Nitrogen reported the company’s facility experienced an electrical interruption, shutting down several units within the facility. PCS was re-starting the units, which could take a couple of days, and may lead to elevated noise levels from the facility. A company official said PCS was investigating the cause and couldn’t say for certain whether the Husky fire had caused the outage.

Saturday morning, residents reported feeling the blast as far south as Wapakoneta, as far north as Bluffton and as far east as Kenton. Residents around Indian Lake and Van Wert also reported feeling the blast. First the flame and then smoke was seen for miles. Dozens of people took took to social media to report it and ask questions. The fire caused a wind-like, or freight train, sound for hours around Lima Saturday.

A cracker is used to change hydrocarbons in the process of refining oil for fuel. The Lima Refinery produces 155,000 barrels of oil a day. It is owned by Husky Energy, headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The facility produces about a quarter of the gasoline used in Ohio. It was unclear how the fire will affect production at the facility.

If you have information or photos, please send them to news@the419.com.