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Calumet: Refinery fire result of prolonged cold weather

Posted: 9:04 AM, Mar 28, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-28 13:13:14-04

(UPDATE, 11:10 a.m.) Calumet Montana Refining clarified with MTN News that due to an unusually prolonged period of bitterly cold weather, freeze damage to a line resulted in the fire at the plant on March 7, 2019.


(1st Report, 9:04 a.m.) In an email to MTN News, Calumet Montana Refining clarified that due to an unusually prolonged period of bitterly cold weather, freeze damage to a line resulted in the fire at the plant on March 7, 2019.

Calumet Montana Refining reported Thursday that the refinery in Great Falls has resumed full operations after the explosion and fire March 7.

All units have now been repaired and restarted.

Calumet stated they determined the fire was the result of a period of unusually prolonged cold weather.

The refinery continues to implement winterization practices to ensure safe operations, according to a press release.

“Safety is our top priority every day,” said Plant Manager Wayne Leiker. “Throughout this incident and the repair work, we have continued to emphasize safety above everything else. Our partnership with local emergency personnel from Great Falls Fire and Rescue, Great Falls Police Department, and the Sheriff’s office allowed a prompt and capable response.”

Calumet said they regularly practice response drills with partner agencies to prepare for fires, severe weather events, and other challenges that may impact plant operations.

No injuries or environmental impacts resulted from the fire, according to Calumet.

Emergency crews were called to the refinery along 10th Street and Smelter Avenue at around 1:15 p.m. on March 7 for reports of an explosion and fire.

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. that day, all roads were open.

Fire and police units cleared the scene 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 several volunteer fire departments.