Two killed in explosion, fire at BP-Husky refinery

Kelly J. Kaczala

         There was still no word by press time on Thursday on what caused an explosion and fire at the BP-Husky refinery on Tuesday on Cedar Point Road that killed two employees. 
        Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance officers were at the scene on Wednesday.
        Ben Morrissey, 32, and his brother Max Morrissey, 34, died Wednesday at the University of Michigan medical center, where they were transported from Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center after suffering severe burns.
        The brothers were graduates of Clay High School, where they participated in the wrestling program.
        Max was also the owner of Red Eye Pie and Frozen Fantasy’s on Seaman Road in Oregon. Its website states: “We will be closed until further notice.”
        BP issued the following statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of these two individuals,” BP spokesperson Megan Baldino said in a statement. “All other staff is accounted for and our employee assistance team is on site to support our employees impacted by this tragedy.”
        BP stated that the refinery was safely shut down and remains offline.
        “Our highest priority remains the safety of our staff, the responders and the public. We continue to update local, state and federal officials.”
        The City of Oregon issued the following statement on its website: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the employees at BP-Husky who lost their lives in the catastrophic fire on Tuesday evening at the refinery. It is such a difficult time, especially for the family, experiencing this horrific loss, and for so many in our community who know these families, we all grieve together.”
        Oregon Fire Chief Denny Hartman said the Oregon Fire Department assisted BP’s fire response team.
        “They called us immediately after the fire occurred. Our initial dispatch was 6:50 p.m. Our first priority was to take care of the burn victims, which we did,” he said.
        “We ended up with 19 firefighters and six vehicles that responded to the call,” he added.
        It was not the worst refinery fire he had ever seen, he said, “but it’s the worst human outcome I’ve ever seen.”
        There were no other injuries from the fire. “There were earlier reports that a bunch of people were hurt, but that was not the case,” he said.
        The fire was extinguished at about 10:15 p.m., he said. “To make sure there were no re-ignition, or fuel sources, it was around 11:15 p.m. when we left.”
        Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur paid tribute to the Morrissey’s on the floor of the House on Wednesday.
        The Morrissey brothers, she said, were “responsible citizens, husbands and fathers, who performed America’s essential work that drives progress and our American way forward.”
        “These brave men will never again return home to their families. They leave behind their young children who will come to understand the gravity of the loss of their fathers. My heart goes out to their precious families, and with their brothers and sisters in the United Steel Workers local 1346, who lost two beloved friends. We also extend our deep gratitude to the brave first responders who rushed to the scene, provided aid, and helped keep our community safe. We have flown flags in honor of Ben and Max Morrissey high above the U.S. Capitol today. We pray their families may find solace and comfort in the memories they’ll always have of their treasured husbands, fathers and sons.”
        A fund to help the families has been set up at Croghan Colonial Bank, 4157 Navarre Ave., Oregon, Ohio, 43616 and at USW Local 1-346 at 2910 Consaul St., Toledo, 43605.
        The BP-operated refinery, which can process up to 160,000 barrels of crude oil per day, has been an important part of the region’s economy for more than 100 years, according to BP, supporting jobs and safely supplying gasoline, diesel and other essential fuels and products.
        In August, BP shut down some of its units at its refinery in Whiting, Indiana, due to an electrical fire. Nobody was hurt.
        Last month, BP-Husky reached an agreement to sell its 50-percent interest in the refinery to Calgary-based Cenovus, its joint venture partner in the facility.


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