Lightning May Have Sparked West Tulsa Refinery Fire

Saturday, April 23rd 2011, 5:04 pm
By: News On 6

Emily Baucum, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Tulsa's Holly Refinery is investigating what caused a massive storage tank fire Friday night.

Bright orange flames lit up the West Tulsa sky as crews worked to keep the dangerous fire from spreading throughout the oil refinery.

04/22/2011 Related Story: Fumes From 'Slop' Tank Catch Fire At West Tulsa Refinery

Crews think a lightning strike caused a tank to go up in flames. Fortunately, no Holly Refinery employees were injured.

The refinery calls the storage tank a "slop tank." It holds extra materials that are no longer needed.

The area surrounding the refinery smelled of oil fumes but crews say people living in surrounding neighborhoods were never in danger.

Firefighters attacked the tank fire with water. Holly Refinery actually has its own fire department and those crews fought the flames from the get-go.

Tulsa Fire got the call around 9:30 p.m. and remained on standby at the refinery gate just in case the Holly crews needed back-up.

But the Holly firefighters managed to get the fire under control by midnight. Tulsa crews say Holly firefighters used foam to keep the fire contained to just the one tanker.

"It spreads over and just smothers it out. That's what they're trying to do now. They're trying to put as much foam over it to smother it and cool it," said Tim Smallwood of the Tulsa Fire Dept.

This was the first fire at the refinery since Holly took over ownership. Tulsa Fire confirms there will be several investigations to find out how the fire started and if it could have been prevented.