Calumet: Fire was isolated to small portion of plant; full staff reporting to work

Posted at 9:57 PM, Mar 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-07 23:59:03-05

GREAT FALLS – Calumet Montana Refining has released a second statement concerning the explosion and fire at the Great Falls refinery Thursday.

According to Calumet, the fire was isolated to a small portion of the plant and operations continue for the rest of the refinery.

No injuries occurred, according to Calumet, and an investigation into the cause of the fire and an assessment of damages continue.

Calumet stated the impact on plant operations and production is slight and full staff is reporting to work and working full shifts.

Emergency crews were called to the refinery along 10th Street and Smelter Avenue at around 1:15 p.m. Responders worked for about three hours to put out two fires following the explosion.

Calumet had released its first statement at 2:39 p.m. confirming all plant personnel were accounted for.

The Montana Department of Transportation reported all roads within a half-mile radius of the refinery were blocked during the incident. As of 6 p.m. Thursday, all roads were open.

Fire and police units cleared the scene around 4 p.m.

Both North Middle School and Sacajawea Elementary School were under a shelter in place during the incident.

Businesses close to the refinery were evacuated including the Montana Club and the Mountain View Co-Op stores. Mountain View Co-Op employees were allowed back in the store around 4 p.m.

Responding agencies included Great Falls Fire Rescue, the Great Falls Police Department, the Montana Highway Patrol, the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, and Black Eagle, Manchester, and Vaughn volunteer fire departments.

You can read Calumet’s second statement below:

Calumet Montana Refining is open and operating following a fire today. The fire was isolated to a small portion of the plant and the rest of the refinery continues operation. No injuries occurred. While an investigation into the cause of the fire and damage assessment continues, the impact on plant operations and production is limited. Full staff is still reporting to work and working full shifts.

“We are grateful not only to the outstanding efforts of our employees today, but also to the great partners we have in Great Falls Fire Rescue, Black Eagle Volunteer Fire Department and the Great Falls Police Department,” said Plant Manager Wayne Leiker. “Calumet and first responders conduct regular joint safety drills and contingency planning, and the safe and effective response to this incident shows the importance of that training and cooperation. This incident had no negative impact on the safety of our employees or the community.”

The incident occurred around 2pm today and the response by the plant and local authorities was immediate. The fire was quickly contained and then extinguished. By 4pm precautionary road closures were lifted.