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.

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