2 Whidbey families devastated by Tesoro refinery fire
April 7, 2010 · Updated 7:51 AM
The deadly Tesoro refinery fire last Friday spread tragedy all the way to Whidbey Island.
Two Oak Harbor families are reeling from the effects of the early morning explosion that killed five refinery employees and injured two.
Donna Van Dreumel, a 36-year-old mother of two and a nine-year employee of Tesoro, was severely injured in the early-morning refinery fire Friday, April 2. She passed away later that day at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Donna and her husband Jim Van Dreumel moved to Whidbey Island 12 years ago, said her mother-in-law Sherry Van Dreumel, who’s in town from Buffalo, N.Y., and spoke on behalf of her grieving son.
The couple have two children, Emma, 10, and Samuel, 6. Jim is a first class electronics tech at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.
A service is planned for Donna at Burley Funeral Chapel in Oak Harbor, Wednesday, April 7, at 4 p.m.
Matt Gumbel, an Oak Harbor resident, has worked for Tesoro since 2007. Harborview upgraded his status from critical to serious condition Monday. On Tuesday morning, he underwent a surgery lasting several hours to remove the burned skin from his legs, which account for about half of the burned areas on his body, according to a CaringBridge blog post by his mother Shauna.
Matt’s burns did not penetrate his muscles and Tuesday’s surgery went well, according to the family.
Gumbel is engaged to Kristin Griffith, and the couple had planned for a summer or fall wedding.
Tesoro spokesperson Lynn Westfall expressed optimism about the condition of the two injured operators, Gumbel, 34, of Oak Harbor and Lew Janz, 41, of Anacortes.
“They’re aware of their surroundings and responding to stimulus,” she said.
Westfall added, “The condition of our co-workers is improving. ... Both are scheduled for skin replacement surgery which we take as a hopeful sign of their stability.”
As for the investigation regarding the cause of the disaster, Westfall said it’s in a “very early planning stage. It would not be unusual for it to be more than a year before conclusions can be drawn. ... We would not expect there to be meaningful updates on this for some time.”
The United Steelworkers Local 12-591 has set up a “Tesoro Incident Family Fund” to help the families affected by last Friday’s fire. Contributions can be sent to the Tesoro Federal Credit Union, P.O. Box 248, Anacortes, WA 98221; USW Local 12-591, P.O. Box 483, Anacortes, WA 98221; dropped off at the office, 902 Fifth St., Anacortes; or call (360) 293-6541 for more information.
“One hundred percent of the donations will go to the families of the victims,” said USW 12-591 financial secretary Brian Ricks.
The USW 12-591 will hold a community memorial in the next several weeks, he said. More information will be posted on the organization’s Web site, www.usw12-591.org.