Oklahoma: Lightning Hits Glenpool Gasoline Storage Tank

Just 11 minutes after being filled with nearly 5 million gallons of gasoline, a fuel-storage tank was struck by lightning, igniting a large fire.


A lightning strike ignited a fire in a gasoline-storage tank at the Explorer Pipeline Terminal in Glenpool, OK, on June 12, 2006. The incident involved Tank 373, on the east side of the tank farm. The tank was constructed in 1970 with a welded steel-cone roof. It was 140 feet in diameter and 48 feet...


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Product was removed from the tank by simultaneous gravity transfer to other tanks and by pumping into a 24-inch outbound pipeline. Careful monitoring of the gasoline temperature was done and when the temperature reached 117 degrees Fahrenheit, the transfer was stopped. Pump seals and bearings are monitored by thermal probes and the system automatically shuts down at 130 degrees.

Two supply lines were established to Williams' 6,000-gpm portable pump at the scene. Side A had a 1,200-gpm flow pumped through Tulsa Fire Department Engine 25 and Glenpool Squad 1. Side C had a 1,500-gpm flow pumped through Glenpool Engine 1 and Jenks Engine 1. An additional engine was on standby at each location in the relay where a pumper was inline in case of an equipment failure.

The offensive attack was initiated at 6:15 P.M., and it took about 90 minutes to extinguish the fire. During the attack, water and foam application was 3,400 gpm. Some 306,000 gallons of water and 3,060 gallons of foam concentrate were used. The Thunderstorm ATC 1 X 3 foam was proportioned at 1% with an application rate of 0.19%. Officials estimated that 600 gallons of foam extinguished 97% of the fire. The balance was used on the remaining hidden fires and to cool areas under the cone roof and damaged tank shell.

The fire was declared under control at 7:01 P.M. Due to the heat and type of tank construction, there were many factors that could cause a re-ignition. At 9:02, mutual aid departments were released; at 10:13 P.M., Glenpool Command was terminated. At this time, security and the fire watch were turned over to Explorer employees. The fire was out at 8:45 P.M., but due to the potential for re-ignition, it was not officially declared out until 7 A.M. on June 13.

The transfer of product and fire suppression resulted in approximately 94,000 barrels (3.9 million gallons) of gasoline being saved and approximately 23,000 barrels (966,000 gallons) lost. The tank was destroyed and damage to the contents was estimated at $3.1 million. Weather at the time was typical for summer with the high temperature in the 90s and scattered thunderstorms. During the incident, the weather varied greatly from hot and humid to cool breezes with rain.

Three months before the fire, the fire department toured the Explorer facility while a tank was being refurbished. This let firefighters and staff review pre-plans of the facility. Each platoon of firefighters visited the facility to gain first-hand knowledge of the site and review Explorer's emergency plan. The largest problem that was identified during pre-planning was water supply. Water flows in the area were adequate, but difficult to access, requiring long hoselays. Mutual aid resources were required to lay several thousand feet of supply line through rough terrain. This was accomplished by loading large-diameter hose onto brush trucks and deploying them off-road.