Lightning sparks fire near Wink, "booming explosion" heard miles away

Lightning sparks fire near Wink, "booming explosion" heard miles away

WINKLER COUNTY, TX (KWES) - Lightning struck a private disposal site Tuesday morning on North Pyote Avenue, Winkler County authorities said, sparking a fire that consumed portions of the facility and destroyed at least two battery tanks.

No injuries were reported, officials confirmed.

The facility is operated by Basic Energy Services, a company headquartered in Fort Worth, according to workers on site.

Calls to Basic Energy Services representatives for comment were not returned.

Wink residents up to ten miles away reported hearing a "booming explosion" Tuesday morning and seeing clouds of black smoke.

"I thought it was a tornado [touching down] at first," one woman said. "I had my bags packed... and was ready to leave town [with my two daughters] if I had to."

Lightning has caused at least three other tank battery fires within the "past several years" at neighboring oilfield sites, according to another resident.

Cory Pierce, an employee at Odessa-based Oilfield Lightning Services, said crews "get called out to a tank battery fire just about every time there's a storm."

He and several colleagues were working at a different location in Winkler County when flames broke out at the Basic Energy Services facility.

Oilfield Lightning Services installs safety equipment, including "offset dissipators," touted to reduce the risk of lightning fires.

"It creates a force field around the whole site so the lightning gets redirected, away from the metal and anything that can catch on fire," Pierce explained.

Portable safety gear is often attached to battery tanks and other oilfield equipment, he said.

Workers at the Basic Energy Services facility declined to answer questions about fire precautions taken by the company.

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