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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Oil tanks explode during lightning storm

  • Oil storage tanks exploded following a lightning strike Wednesday morning in northern Leavenworth County, emergency officials said.
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  • Oil storage tanks exploded following a lightning strike Wednesday morning in northern Leavenworth County, emergency officials said.
    One of the tanks went airborne, traveling about 200 yards. No injuries were reported.
    Crews have starting cleaning up the oil that spilled at the site, according to Chuck Magaha, director of Leavenworth County Emergency Management.
    The incident was reported at 4:36 a.m. Wednesday at 22312 Happy Hollow Road.
    A deputy with the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office was working on a report in the area of Pleasant Ridge High School. He saw the lightning and then the glow from the fire, according to Undersheriff Jim Sherley.
    Magaha said the lightning struck what is known as a "tank battery farm." He said three 8,500-gallon crude oil tanks were impacted by the lightning strike. Two of the tanks exploded, with one being hurled into the air.
    He said the tank that went into the air stripped branches from a large oak tree as it landed.
    "These tanks are huge," Magaha said.
    He estimated the tanks were 20 feet in diameter and 15 feet tall.
    The top of the third tank was blown off and most of the oil inside burned up.
    As Magaha was driving to the scene Wednesday morning, he could see the fire "from a long ways" even through fog.
    He said an assistant chief from the Easton Township Fire Department reported being able to see the fire from five miles away.
    Firefighters from multiple departments responded. Magaha said firefighters allowed the oil tank fire to "burn itself out."
    He said 1,000-gallon propane tank at the site also ignited. Firefighters also were allowing this fire burn itself out Wednesday.
    Magaha said about 2,000 gallons of crude oil was spilled on the ground. He said Daystar Petroleum, which owns the tanks, is responsible for the cleanup.
    "They're in the process of doing that right now," he said Wednesday afternoon.
    He said the cleanup will take a couple of days. He said crude oil should not spill into local streams because a containment berm was built around the site Wednesday.
    Magaha said the Kansas Department of Health and Environment also responded to the site Wednesday. Someone from the Kansas Corporation Commission, which governs oil wells in the state, was expected to visit the site Thursday.

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