Explosions at El Dorado oil refinery worry residents

Posted: Updated: Mar 06, 2019 08:15 PM
EL DORADO, Kan. (KAKE) -

Two explosions occurred Wednesday morning at an El Dorado oil refinery due to a fire in a pipe rack.

In a statement from the Holly Frontier oil refinery, they said their “emergency response team immediately responded and safely contained the fire.” They also said their “employees and contractors are accounted for and safe.” As a precaution they said they also evacuated all “non-essential” personnel.

Two residents in the area of the refinery spoke out on the matter.

“It was intense,” said Suzie Cawthorn, a resident right next to the refinery.

She said she felt the explosions one after the other, with a short pause between the two. However at first she didn’t think it was an explosion.

“I thought a tree or something had fallen on the house because it shook so much,” she said. “My dog jumped up and ran around, he’s a four and a half pound yorkie so it kind of scared him.”

She said she walked outside as soon as she knew something happened at the refinery and saw where the fires were.

“I looked out, you could see the flames, and the smoke and there was like 3 places, 3 smoke areas,” said Cawthorn.

Another resident who lives a farther distance from the refinery said she received a call from her son. He is a truck driver who had seen the smoke, and asked if she knew what happened. After their conversation she said she walked to her window and looked at the refinery in the distance.

“Well I saw the black smoke coming out of both towers and usually when that happens, something’s gone down,” said Diane Lowmaster, an El Dorado resident. “I thought man, there’s really something wrong at the refinery. Then I saw more smoke that I didn’t know what that was. And I guess that’s where the explosion was.”

She said the first thing she thought of was her son who worked at the refinery, and his safety.

“That’s what I thought,” she said. “My sons there, did he get out OK?”

It wasn’t until after she contacted her other son that she realized everything was OK.

“He said well he talked to Kevin, and Kevin had gotten out, they were evacuating everybody from the refinery,” said Lowmaster.

In their statement, the refinery said they don’t expect the smoke from the fires that created a long trail in the sky to affect the community.