Lightning Strikes Gasoline Tank, Starts Fire

June 2010 Vol. 237 No. 6

A Colonial Pipeline tank containing gasoline caught fire early on June 13 after it was apparently struck by lightning. The Greensboro, NC Fire Department deployed a reported 150 firefighters who worked for six hours to extinguish the fire.

There were no injuries and no evacuations were required, fire officials said, but Interstate 40, which runs alongside the tank farm, and other area highways were closed until about 8 AM June 13.

Colonial safely shut down its operations and pumped gasoline out of the involved tank to help the firefighting effort. Emergency response crews prevented the flames from spreading to other tanks on the tank farm. Greensboro firefighters, who used foam to extinguish the fire, remained on scene to ensure there were no additional flare-ups.

“We are relieved that no one was injured during this emergency,” Colonial CEO Tim Felt said. “And we deeply appreciate the Greensboro Fire Department for their quick and professional response. As we have come to learn during frequent drills at our Greensboro facility, they are outstanding.”

The impacted tank had a capacity of 43,000 barrels and was about half full when the fire started just after midnight. Local and state officials were on site to monitor air quality and to ensure there was no risk to the surrounding community.

The majority of normal operations are resuming at the Greensboro facility as safety checks are completed. This early morning incident is not expected to disrupt fuel supplies in the Greensboro area or elsewhere.

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