April 25, 2010 in City

Seventh victim dies from refinery fire

Tesoro blast still under investigation
Associated Press

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.

© Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Get stories like this in a free daily email

Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus