Residents Near Tank Battery Explosion Talk About Evacuation

Thursday, April 18th 2013, 8:15 pm
By: News 9

Parts of Oklahoma are still cleaning up after Wednesday's storm wreaked major damage. In Northeast Oklahoma City, a tank battery burst into flames after lightning hit it, forcing nearby residents to evacuate.

Scorpio Davis says he felt his house shake Wednesday night after lightning struck a fuel tank battery near NE 4th St. and Bryant Ave. and set it on fire.

4/17/2013 Related Story: Lightning Strike Ignites Fire At Tank Battery In NE OKC

"As soon as the lightning struck, it looked like it caught the trees back over here and it just looked like a big bon fire like," says Davis, who is from Denver and has only lived in his home on N. Bryant Ave. for six months.

"It was going for about five or ten minutes before the cops came out and shut down the whole block and evacuated all the residents."

Firefighters went door-to-door evacuating residents to a nearby park. Homes were evacuated from NE 4th St. to 10th as well as near Sunnylane Rd.

"You know, it's not a deeply dense residential area, but with the chemicals, it was a scare," Davis said. "It was hard on us because some of [the residents] didn't have a car, and we all were evacuated all the way down to the park, and we stood down there for about two or three hours, and it was pretty cold."

About 23 residents were evacuated from homes within one mile of the fuel tank battery site. Residents say they could feel the tanks exploding back to back before 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.

4/17/2013 Related Story: Severe Thunder Storms Rumble Across Oklahoma

Huge flames and smoke could be seen off I-35. More than 35 firefighters were able to get a handle on the fire in less than an hour by using foam.

It's a tank farm. We have several tanks involved. They have 24 tanks total in here," says Oklahoma City Fire Deputy Chief Marc Woodard. "At first we had a one mile perimeter established until we seen exactly what we had, and we take precautions on any type of HazMat incident."

Five hazardous chemicals were burned, including methanol and xylene. Davis says the fire shook him up, but he was relieved no one was hurt.

"When it struck, there was a couple explosions. After that it actually struck you know, that we felt in the ground," Davis says. "So it was pretty scary up there man, had me up there praying."

Oklahoma City Fire says a HazMat crew stayed on site until 2 a.m. on Thursday to make sure no one could be harmed by the chemicals burned in the tank fire.

4/17/2013 Related Story: Meteorologist David Payne Talks About Wednesday's Storm Chase