Business Resumes At Port Of Catoosa After Tank Fire Causes Evacuations

Business is back to usual at the Port of Catoosa after a tank fire forced hundreds of people to evacuate. The response was a joint effort between local law enforcement, fire departments, and the Port of Catoosa.

Wednesday, February 15th 2023, 6:16 pm



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Business is back to usual at the Port of Catoosa after a tank fire forced hundreds of people to evacuate.

The local elementary school moved students to a different location for fear of an explosion.

The response was a joint effort between local law enforcement, fire departments, and the Port of Catoosa.

The fire was out in under two hours and everyone was safe.

“We became aware of smoke from the top of the storage tank, the kind you typically see from petroleum products or chemicals, issuing some black smoke," said David Yarbrough.

Port Director David Yarbrough said they sounded an alarm and sent a mass text to let people know what was happening.

At first, the port authority recommended people stay in place, but then recommended evacuation.

“The wind was out of the east, blowing due west, we said the north half of the port, we advise you to evacuate,” he said.

Catoosa Schools nearby also decided to move students at the Helen Paul Learning Center to another building, out of caution. They moved almost 500 students in 20 minutes.

“We made the decision, given the circumstances, we need to move our students," said Samuel Brown. "So at that time we made phone calls-- we have a very fast response.”

Catoosa Schools Police Chief Samuel Brown said it was a success and parents were all in the loop during the evacuation.

By noon, the all-clear was given for students to go back to their classrooms and for business to go about as usual at the Port.

“We’re thinking about safety," Yarbrough said. "We don’t know what that is what’s gonna happen, so we get people out of harm's way.”

The tank caught fire when welders were working on the top of it and the tank was empty.

Statement from tank owner, Holly Energy Partners: "At approximately 8:57 a.m. on Feb. 15, we responded to a fire inside one of our tanks in Catoosa, OK. We immediately initiated our emergency response plan and the fire was extinguished at approximately 10:40 a.m."

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