SEATTLE - The explosion and fire at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes prompted Airlift Northwest to fly four badly burned workers to Seattle's Harborview Medical Center. The first patient arrived at 3:15 a.m.
The four employees were hospitalized with major burns over the majority of their bodies, said Susan Gregg-Hanson, a spokeswoman for Harborview.
But 29-year-old Kathryn Powell and 36-year-old Donna VanDreumel later died at the hospital.
The other two are listed as critical and are in the intensive care unit in the burn center. They are 34-year-old Matt Gumbel and 41-year-old Lew Janz.
Dr. Tam Pham, the surgeon who worked on the burn patients, couldn't comment on their treatment because of patient privacy laws. But in general, with burn patients, the first priority is to make sure the patients receive enough liquid.
"When you get a burn, you swell throughout your body and our job is to support your vital organs by giving you enough fluids to keep your blood pressure OK... to allow your heart and your other organs to have enough blood flow to them in order to survive through this episode," said Dr. Pham.
However, he said the first 24 to 48 hours are the most critical. If patients make it through the first two days, their survival rate is 96 percent.