Oil storage tanks in North Dakota catch fire; no injuries

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 01, 2015 7:41 PM

By Ernest Scheyder

WILLISTON, N.D. (Reuters) - More than 1,600 barrels of crude were ablaze just south of Williston, N.D., on Thursday after storage tanks caught fire while trucks were delivering oil, but no one was injured and officials said they intend to let the blaze die out.

The tanks are just across the street from a major Enbridge Inc crude oil facility. That facility did not appear to have been damaged, despite initial concerns it had been affected.

It was not immediately clear who owns the storage tanks that caught fire and emergency responders declined to comment. The tank battery does not appear on state regulators' maps.

The crude damaged by the blaze is a minute proportion of the more than 1 million barrels produced each day in North Dakota, the second-largest oil-producing state in the United States.

The crude will likely have to burn off completely before the fire dies out, McKenzie County Deputy Sheriff Per Perez said.

The cause of the blaze remained under investigation, officials said, but foul play was not suspected.

The blaze started when two trucks were delivering crude to the 12-tank battery on Thursday afternoon, officials said. Nearby residents reported hearing and feeling an explosion.

Each tank has a capacity of 210 barrels. All 12 of the tanks contained crude, Perez said, and eight of them caught fire.

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Trucks must be grounded each time they deliver crude, and it was not clear if both of the trucks were properly grounded on Thursday to divert electrical discharge.

Drivers of both trucks got away safely, Perez said.

An Enbridge spokeswoman was not available to comment.

(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Sandra Maler and Alan Raybould)