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Lightning Strike Ignites N.C. Gas Tanks

A gasoline storage tank burns in Greensboro early Sunday morning June 13, 2010 after a lightning storm ignited the tank. The facility runs along Interstate-40 which has been closed in both directions until officials can extinguish the flames. Interstate-73 is also closed through Greensboro due to the fire. (AP Photo/Brad Coville, Times-News)
AP Photo/Brad Coville, Times-News
Sections of two interstate highways through in Greensboro, N.C., were closed in both directions early Sunday as firefighters battled a blaze that began when lightning struck a large gasoline tank, authorities said.

The closed stretches of interstate highways 40 and 73 were not expected to reopen until Sunday afternoon, the North Carolina Department of Transportation said.

Authorities early Sunday said lightning struck a gasoline tank at the Colonial Pipeline Tank Farm near I-40 shortly after midnight. They said no injuries or evacuations were reported and there was no danger to the public.

The News-Record newspaper of Greensboro reported that the burning tank contained 20,000 barrels of gasoline.

Firefighters planned to use foam on the fire after removing some of the liquid from the tank. Greensboro Assistant Fire Chief David Douglas told the newspaper the fire was under control at 5:15 a.m., even though it didn't look like it.

"This is not a catastrophic, cataclysmic event. It is simply a tank fire," Douglas said.

Officials were putting water on two nearby tanks as a precaution. Douglas said those tanks were nearly empty with only 3,000 barrels inside. Each barrel contains 42 gallons.