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Gas tank fire closes two N.C. highways

Associated Press / June 14, 2010

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Two interstate highways were temporarily closed after lightning struck a large gasoline tank early yesterday in North Carolina, officials said.

The closed sections of interstates 40 and 73 through Greensboro were reopened within hours, the North Carolina Department of Transportation said.

The tank’s owner, Colonial Pipeline Co., said the burning gasoline was extinguished by firefighters using special foam, and crews remained on the scene to put out any flare-ups.

Authorities said lightning struck the tank at the Colonial Pipeline tank farm near I-40 shortly after midnight.

No injuries or evacuations were reported.

Colonial Pipeline said it resumed normal operations after the fire, which caused it to temporarily halt pipeline deliveries in and out of the hub.

Company spokesman Steve Baker said product deliveries on pipelines in and out of Greensboro, the largest tank farm in the company’s pipeline system, were stopped earlier in the day. The location has 72 fuel tanks.

The tank was about half full when the fire broke out. About 150 firefighters responded to the blaze. At least four were treated for heat exhaustion.

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