Investigation underway following tank explosion - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Investigation underway following tank explosion

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Photo from Dave Solie Photo from Dave Solie
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La Crosse, WI (WXOW) -

UPDATE: The La Crosse Fire Department is working with Midwest Fuels Thursday and Friday to try to identify the cause of Wednesday's explosion at the company on the northside of La Crosse.

Division Chief Craig Snyder, who is heading the investigation, tells WXOW they are interviewing employees and inspecting equipment as part of its investigation.

A tank containing 7,000 gallons of a mix of asphalt and diesel fuel exploded just before 7:00 p.m. Wednesday morning at the company plant at 701 Sumner Street. One employee of Midwest Fuels had minor injuries in the incident.

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One person is injured in an explosion that rocked the north side of La Crosse Wednesday morning.

A spokesperson for Midwest Industrial Fuels said there were eight people working at the time of the explosion at 701 Sumner Street near Copeland Park shortly before 7:00 a.m. One employee was transported to the hospital with minor burns and has since been released.

According to a release from the La Crosse Fire Department, the explosion was felt by crews at Station 2 on Monitor Street about ten blocks away. The release said they left for the scene before any calls came in from dispatch. As they arrived at Midwest Fuels, firefighters found a 40 foot high, 24 foot diameter tank fully engulfed with fire. It was capable of holding 132,000 gallons of chemicals, but at the time only contained around 7,000 gallons of a mixture of asphalt and diesel fuel.

Steve Mathy, the spokesperson for Midwest Fuels, said the force of the explosion blew the top of the tank a few hundred yards away to the northern portion of the property. three of the seven tanks near the explosion were empty.

The La Crosse Fire Department was able to contain the fire to the one tank. La Crosse Fire Capt. Dan Skiles said firefighters poured foam into the tank to smother the blaze and keep it from spreading to at least four other tanks around it. Midwest Fuels' Steve Mathy said that three of the seven tanks near the explosion were empty.

As the department fought the fire, they issued a shelter in place order for a ten block radius around the explosion site to keep residents in their homes and businesses. The order was lifted about 8:25 a.m.

Besides the fire, there was a concern over runoff from the explosion and firefighting efforts reaching the nearby Black River.

"We really had no spill as far as any contamination," said Mathy. "The only contamination we had was basically from the fire hoses and the water and some run off with oil residue but that's currently being cleaned up."

He said he does not think anyone in the immediate surrounding areas should be worried about their health.

"We feel that nobody should be real concerned about exposure to that," Mathy said. "They might have gotten a slight headache or slight burning in their throat but we don't believe that anybody should be concerned."

Mathy said the La Crosse Fire Department did a "tremendous" job and was well prepared to handle the blaze.

"We do periodic training with them so they had an idea of what they were dealing with by the time they got on scene," he said.

Mathy said it has never had an incident like this before and that it will take a while before it is able to identify the cause of the explosion.

WXOW's Dave Solie was at UW-La Crosse at the time of the explosion. He said it shook the entire building he was in. At first, he said he thought someone had hit the building. A few minutes later, he noticed the large black cloud of smoke rising from the northside.

WXOW and WXOW.com will have complete coverage of the explosion and its impact coming up on Live at Five 6pm Report, and 10pm Report.

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Firefighters in La Crosse have contained a blaze that erupted from an explosion at a fuels plant. Officials say the explosion and fire erupted in an above-ground tank containing an unknown amount of diesel fuel and asphalt at Midwest Fuels Wednesday about 7 a.m.

La Crosse Fire Capt. Dan Skiles says one person was transported to the hospital with an injury. He says firefighters poured foam into the tank to smother the blaze and keep it from spreading to at least four other tanks around it.

Residents of the neighborhood were told to stay indoors because of air quality concerns. That advisory was lifted about 2 hours later.

Skiles says the initial explosion could be felt for miles. He says firefighters were also concerned the blaze might spread to the Hydrite Chemical Co. next door.

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UPDATE: As of 9 a.m. La Crosse Fire Chief Gregg Cleveland said the fire is contained. Crews are still on scene monitoring the situation.

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One person is injured in an explosion that rocked the north side of La Crosse Wednesday morning.

The explosion happened shortly before 7 a.m. in the 600 block of Sumner Street. According to the La Crosse Fire Department, the explosion happened in a tank containing a mix of seventy percent asphalt and thirty percent diesel.

Resources are on scene in case the product were to go into the Black River.

A shelter in place order was given for residents for a ten block area around the explosion site. The fire department lifted that order shortly before 8:30 a.m.

If possible avoid avoid travel through the north side of La Crosse as traffic will be diverted from this area.

La Crosse Fire Chief Gregg Cleveland tells WXOW that the fire is out, but that crews are still spraying water on the tank that exploded to cool the metal down from the fire.

WXOW and WXOW.com will provide additional information as it becomes available.


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