Lightning Ignites Gas Tank, Forcing Major N.C. Roads to Close

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Lightning struck a large gasoline tank early Sunday in North Carolina, igniting a blaze that closed sections of two interstate highways in both directions, authorities said.

The closed stretches of interstates 40 and 73 through Greensboro were not expected to reopen until Sunday afternoon, the North Carolina Department of Transportation said. The tank's owner, Colonial Pipeline Co., said Sunday that the burning gasoline was extinguished by firefighters using special foam, but crews were still on scene to put out any flare-ups.

Authorities early Sunday said lightning struck a gasoline tank at the Colonial Pipeline Tank Farm near I-40 shortly after midnight. No injuries or evacuations were reported.

The company said the 43,000-barrel tank was about half full when it ignited, and crews are working to pump the rest of the fuel out of it.

Officials were putting water on two nearby tanks as a precaution. Greensboro Assistant Fire Chief David Douglas told the News-Record newspaper of Greensboro that those tanks were nearly empty with only 3,000 barrels inside. Each barrel contains 42 gallons.