Lightning strike leads to massive oil tank fire

Fire began just after 9 p.m. at a Perdido Energy site off of I-49
A stray lightning strike reportedly struck and ignited an oil tank, leading to a massive, hours-long fire.
Published: Jul. 10, 2023 at 3:09 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 10, 2023 at 5:19 PM CDT
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CHENEYVILLE, La. (KALB) - A stray lightning strike struck and ignited an oil tank, leading to a massive, hours-long fire near the 1-49 Turkey Creek exit in Cheneyville.

At around 9:30 p.m., fire department officials in Rapides Parish received their first call about an oil tank fire in an individual’s backyard. The Lecompte Volunteer Fire Department (LVFD) arrived at the scene of the fire, located off Exit 61 of I-49, which is the exit to Turkey Creek and Meeker.

Soon after, three additional volunteer fire departments from Echo, Cheneyville and Turkey Creek joined LVFD, as well as the Evangeline Parish Ward 5 Fire Department. They assessed the situation and waited on Louisiana State Police’s hazmat team to arrive, who investigated the cause of the fire and the danger to the area.

LSP determined the fire was the result of a lightning strike hitting a crude oil tank.

We have learned the tanks belong to Houston-based Perdido Energy. Multiple tanks were impacted by the lightning strike. Some of the tanks contained produced water, which is highly flammable, and at least one tank was filled with crude oil. Until an assessment is done, after the flames are out, LSP will not have an idea of just how many tanks were impacted.

The fire was contained, and officials determined they would allow the fire to burn throughout the night. By 7:30 a.m., the fire had burned out without firefighter intervention.

Residents located within half a mile of the fire were evacuated Sunday evening before LSP was able to respond. Once LSP determined the fire was no longer hazardous, residents were able to return home.

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