Tesoro blast still under investigation
SEATTLE – A seventh person has died from the Tesoro Corp. refinery blast in Anacortes.
Matt Gumbel died early Saturday at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, a nursing supervisor said.
Gumbel, 34, of Oak Harbor, had been in the hospital’s intensive care unit with serious burns. He had undergone skin graft surgery a few hours before his death.
An explosive fire at the Tesoro refinery engulfed Gumbel and six other workers April 2. It was the deadliest event at a U.S. refinery since 15 people died at a BP facility in Texas in 2005.
A community memorial service for all the refinery victims is set for 2 p.m. today at Anacortes High School’s Brodniak Hall.
The other victims were: Daniel J. Aldridge, 50; Kathryn Powell, 29; Matthew C. Bowen, 31; Darrin J. Hoines, 43; Donna Van Dreumel, 36; and Lew Janz, 41.
The cause of the explosion is still unknown, but federal investigators believe that workers were engulfed in a “firewall” that ignited within seconds.
The company said earlier this month that employees were doing routine maintenance on a unit that processes highly flammable liquid derived during the refining process.
Ongoing asbestos clean-up and structural concerns in the area have hampered investigators’ access to the blast site, Hector Castro, a spokesman with the Washington Department of Labor and Industries, said Saturday.
“It’s going to take longer to get in there,” Castro said.
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