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Lightning Strikes Oil Battery

June 19, 2011

Stafford County has dodged the main force of recent storms. All the County has gotten has been a few drops of rain and some pretty amazing bolts of lightning. That was case again Saturday evening. Unfortunately, one of those lightning bolts found a ground target – an oil tank battery.

Folks from many miles away reported seeing the lightning bolt stream downward from the sky. Afterwards, they say the sky lit up like the 4th of July. That display was one of the oil battery tanks streaming across the sky.

The tank and lid came to a resting point five hundred feet from where it called home.

The flight through the air apparently helped to extinguish the fire in the airborne tank because there was no burning around the launched tank. Unfortunately, that was not the case with two other tanks. Those tanks and the area around the burning tanks was on fire.

Firefighters from Seward, Hudson, St. John responded in quick order. An uncut wheat field was extinguished as were other areas around the tanks. There was one remaining upright tank that was full with oil. Firefighters were unable to extinguish that fire because of safety concerns about the integrity of the tank.

Later the next day – just after noon – firefighters again were dispatched to the tank battery. The burning tank had ignited the fields around the tank. This time the tank’s oil level had dropped. Because of that firefighters were able to completely extinguish the fire in the tank.

A representative of the owner arrived on scene shortly after the second fire was out. The estimate on the loss was placed at approximately $15,000. The loss would’ve been substantially more – losing the uncut wheat – if not for the quick notification and great job done by firefighters.

*St. John News Editor Terry Spradley has a story and photos of the first fire.

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