3 dead, 4 injured in Anacortes refinery fire

Three people have died and four are hospitalized with serious burn injuries after a explosion and fire at the Tesoro Refinery in Anacortes, Washington.

The explosion occurred around 12:30am in the “part of the refinery that turns crude oil into gasoline,” in the refinery’s catalytic reformer naptha hydrotreater unit. Ten workers were reportedly performing maintenance at the time of the blast. Nearby residents say effects of the explosion and the fire could be felt as far as five miles away:

“My house shook, big time,” said Lisa Wooding. “There were flames. First high, then low to the ground and broad.”

“I’d say the flames were about 20 feet tall and about 100 feet wide,” one man told KOMO Newsradio.

“We thought it was a sonic boom at first until we heard the sirens going off at the refinery,” said Tina Smith. “We can see two dark plumes coming up from an area closer to Highway 20.”

“I thought maybe a jet engine fell on our house, because it sounded like a jet was crossing over the top of our house after the explosion,” a woman told KOMO Newsradio.

By 3am, the effects of the explosion and resulting fire had largely been contained and the Seattle Post Intelligencer says reporters were being turned away at the refinery’s gate. The cause of the blast has not yet been determined. Tesoro released a statement today addressing the incident:

“This is a very sad time for our organization. Everyone in the Tesoro family appreciates the impact that this will have on the families involved, and we are responding quickly to ensure the safety for our employees, contractors and the neighboring community,” said Bruce Smith, Tesoro’s chairman, president and CEO, in a statement.

Identities of those killed have not yet been released.