Senior Student Makes Documentary on 2018 Refinery Fire – Superior Telegram

SUPERIOR — A Superior High School sophomore is drawing attention to the 2018 explosion and fire at a Superior refinery.

Jamie Ivey was 11 years old at the time of the incident. Now 16, they ride their bikes around the city to film and do interviews. Using a minimum of tools—a cell phone, a tripod, a hair tie, and editing software—and her own passion, Ivy set out to describe the community’s response to the fire from a variety of angles. It plans to air the result of “Superior Strong: The Superior Refinery Explosion” by April 2023, the five-year anniversary of the event.

It will not be graded; it’s not for class.

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Jamie Ivey, a senior at High School, films a b-roll of tanks at the Cenovus refinery along Hill Avenue in Superior on Wednesday, Oct. 26.

Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

“I guess my intention for creating this project was to further my education, which I think I’ve already done a lot; to practice my journalism skills because one of my future goals is to be a television journalist and … I like to record stories in my own way,” Ivy said.

The refinery fire was big news, even on the national news, but then the coverage died down, Ivey said. She wants to tell the rest of the story.

“I really want the project to focus just on the strength of the city and its fire department, the cooperation between the refinery and the fire department, and the amazing response of the police department,” Ivey said.

And she wants to bring it to a larger audience.

“People in this town already know. They saw the courage of everyone,” said the sophomore. “I kind of want it to reach people outside of Superior so they can see.”

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With a bicycle, tripod and cell phone, High School sophomore Jamie Ivey snaps a picture of the Cenovus Energy refinery on Hill Avenue in Superior. The 16-year-old is working on a documentary about the 2018 oil refinery explosion and fire that led to the evacuation of much of Verkhnyi.

Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

Ivy has been interested in this project since 2019. It began to gain momentum on June 8, when she interviewed Senior Mayor Jim Payne. Five days later, the teenager spoke with the employees of the Main Fire Service.

“She had really interesting questions, she wanted to understand what we did that day, what we did well and what went well,” said Battalion Chief Cameron Folbrecht.

Later that summer, Ivy asked Police Chief Nicholas Alexander about what it looked and felt like at the police department that day.

“She was very thorough. She came prepared,” said the chief. “We had a nice meeting.”

They said Ivy was professional and bright, and both appreciated her multifaceted approach to the project.

During the event, Folbrecht was focused on fighting the fire.

“I think it’s important for us as a responder to understand how the rest of the community reacts and feels about these things,” he said. “It makes it easier for us to show compassion.”

The project was inspired by the incident itself. Ivy, 11, was living in Superior when the fire happened.

Documentary filmmaker Jamie Ivey poses with a camera

Documentary filmmaker Jamie Ivey poses with the camera in the cafeteria outside the gym at the senior high school on Wednesday, Nov. 2.

Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“I was focused on my mum’s panic and I didn’t know what was going on. “The most I could see before turning on the news was looking out the window,” Ivy said. “I turned on the news and I saw a lot more than what I could see from my window. That’s when it hit me: “Oh, journalism can really do something about people’s lives.”

YouTube became Ivy’s classroom when she was looking for content like “a day in the life of a multimedia journalist” or “a day in the life of a news photographer” where they demonstrate the skills needed to shoot and edit a story.

This school year, Ivy took a Spartan Spin journalism class specifically to work on a weekly webcast. English teacher Elisa Hintzman, who teaches classes with Krista Kalin, was impressed when Ivy told her about the documentary she was working on.

“A student like Jamie inspires me a lot because I think it’s unique that at such a young age they already have a passion for what they can do as a future career and what they take on take the initiative in it,” Hintzman said. “They’re actually going out and doing things that their teacher hasn’t even instructed them to do to practice those skills and hone those skills for what they’re ultimately going to be successful at in their future”.

Folbrecht said he is looking forward to seeing Ivey’s finished documentary. They can even organize a watch at the station.

“As we get closer to opening the facility, there will be some anxiety in our community and we may get questions about this, so it’s good to be prepared and remember what we did and what it was like,” Volbrecht said.

About a third of the fire department was hired in the last five years, he said. They did not participate in extinguishing the fire at the refinery.

“It’s a big lesson for us: we have to pass on what we’ve learned to a lot of new people,” Folbrecht said.

According to Hintzman, the first print edition of the Spartan Spin student newspaper of the year will be distributed on Friday, November 11. The 60 or so students in the class launched their first weekly webcast on October 28 and continue to post new stories online at and on Instagram.

The webcast is hosted by Spartan Spin’s core student team, which includes Ivy. Hintzman said the webcast, which was new last school year, is a cool element to add.

“It’s also a great way for people to not only see the faces of Spartan Spin, but to get them to go to our website, get them excited when our print edition comes out,” Hintzman said.

It also gives students an opportunity to improve their skills. The new webcast format provides viewers with a series of individual segments about different events at the school, some filmed in different locations.

“They completely exceeded my expectations,” Hintzman said of the webcast team.

New this year is the option to pay for your Spartan Spin subscription via the website. Those with a subscription will receive a copy of the student newspaper in the mail.

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Jamie Ivey, a sophomore at High School, sets up a tripod with a cell phone along Hill Avenue on Wednesday, Oct. 26, to make a B-roll video of the tanks at the Cenovus Energy refinery in Superior. Ivey is working on an informational documentary about the 2018 explosion and fire at the Superior Oil Refinery.

Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

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