Roads around refinery open; cause of reported explosion under investigation

Posted at 5:56 PM, Mar 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-07 23:42:10-05


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.

GREAT FALLS – The roads around Calumet Refinery in Great Falls are now open.

Road closures were put in place after emergency crews responded to a reported explosion and fire around 1:15 p.m. Thursday.

The Montana Department of Transportation reported all roads within a half-mile radius of the refinery were blocked during the incident.

Calumet Montana Refining released a statement at 2:39 p.m. confirming all plant personnel were accounted for and no injuries were reported.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

Sacajawea Elementary School and North Middle School were under a shelter in place, however, it was lifted before school was out.

Businesses in close proximity to the refinery were evacuated such as the Montana Club and the Mountain View Co-Op stores.

The Great Falls Police Department reported that air quality experts determined the air to be safe in the vicinity of the refinery.

Benefis Health System told MTN News the hospital is always prepared for a major emergency.

Here is the complete statement from Calumet:

Calumet Montana Refining has confirmed an incident has occurred at their plant. At this time all plant personnel have been accounted for and there are no injuries to report. A perimeter has been established around the plant, and this includes some interruption to traffic. The cause of the incident is under investigation. Calumet’s top priority is the safety of plant staff and the community. Updates will be provided as they are available.

We will update you when we get more information.