Sixth worker hurt in Anacortes refinery fire dies

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by JAKE WHITTENBERG / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on April 13, 2010 at 7:11 AM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 13 at 6:04 PM

SEATTLE - A sixth worker badly injured in the fire at the Tesoro Refinery in Anacortes has died.

Lew Janz, 41, was critically injured with severe burns over his entire body after the blast on April 2. Janz had been in the intensive care unit at Harbor view Medical Center in Seattle since the accident. Family tells KING 5 that Janz developed an infection, and died early Tuesday morning.

The day of the explosion, Hershel Janz told KING 5 that his son often spoke about the dangerous of working in a refinery.

"He knew bad accidents could happen" he said. "Lew is a great man, and a hard worker."

Janz was engaged to be married in May.

Tesoro says the workers were conducting routing maintenance on a fuel cleaning unit when the explosion occurred. The exact cause of the blast is still unknown, but it is believed that a massive amount of a flammable vapor was suddenly released and ignited, engulfing the workers in a massive fireball.

The last remaining member of the team, Matt Gumbel, 34, remains in serious condition.

In an online journal entry the Gumbels say their son also has an infection, but write "Our hearts are with the Janz family ... We have spent 10 days with this family, laughed and cried ... please pray for us all."

State and Federal Investigators say a cause may not be determined for several months.

Tesoro announced plans to shut down refinery operations indefinitely by May 1 due to complications caused by the fire.

More than 300 workers will remain idle, although they've been promised full pay and benefits.

Tesoro has planned a public memorial in Anacortes for April 25.

 

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