Monday, June 14, 2010

Lightning ignites gasoline tank fire at Colonial’s Greensboro Junction

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Lightning is believed to have struck a large gasoline tank around 1 a.m. on the morning of June 13 at a refined petroleum tank farm in eastern Greensboro, starting a fire that caused nearby stretches of two interstate highways to be closed in both directions for several hours, authorities said.
The closed sections of Interstates 40 and 73 through Greensboro were reopened later in the morning, officials with the N.C. Department of Transportation said.
The tank farm's owner, Colonial Pipeline Co., said local firefighters extinguished the burning gasoline by using fire-suppressing foam, but fire crews stayed on throughout much of the day in case of any flare-ups.
No injuries were reported and no evacuations were ordered.
The company said that the 43,000-barrel tank was about half full when the fire broke out. Colonial employees pumped much of the fuel out of the affected tank. Firefighters sprayed water on two nearby tanks as a precaution to keep them from igniting.
Colonial Pipeline's director of communications, Steve Baker, said from Atlanta that only about half the fuel in the tank burned, and the rest was safely transferred to another tank.
The Colonial tank farm at Greensboro is a breakout facility where incoming fuel from the Gulf Coast goes into tankage before being reinjected into smaller mainlines to Baltimore, Md. The facility, known as Greensboro Junction, is situated near the Piedmont Triad International Airport.
Colonial Pipeline said it does not foresee supply problems as a result of the fire.

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