Oil storage tank fires in western ND burn on

ALEXANDER, N.D. - Fire from eight Enbridge crude oil storage tanks raged on Friday in McKenzie County but no injuries were reported. The fire started about 9:25 p.m. Thursday about 9 miles north of Alexander, McKenzie County Emergency Manager Jer...

ALEXANDER, N.D. – Fire from eight Enbridge crude oil storage tanks raged on Friday in McKenzie County but no injuries were reported.

The fire started about 9:25 p.m. Thursday about 9 miles north of Alexander, McKenzie County Emergency Manager Jerry Samuelson said.

“It’s still burning out there. Eight tanks are engulfed in flames. Four others are adjacent to them,” Samuelson said. “The Alexander Fire Department is hosing those down. They’re pouring water on them constantly.”

He said firefighters were letting the fire burn itself out, although he couldn’t say when the blaze would end.

“There are 980 barrels of crude in eight tanks and 1,200 barrels in the other four,” said Samuelson, adding that no homes are near the immediate range of the fire. No injuries have been reported.

Samuelson said the fire could have been caused by electrical problems when a truck was unloading more crude, but that hasn’t been confirmed.

He said portions of U.S. Highway 85 were closed Thursday evening, but were reopened Friday morning.

Samuelson listed the Williston Rural Fire Department, the Arnegard Fire Department, the Watford City Police Department and the North Dakota Highway Patrol as assisting at the scene.

The McKenzie County Sheriff’s Department is continuing to keep the area secure.

Samuelson said nearby pipelines have been secured to prevent further fire issues.

State Health Department officials were en route to investigate the scene and to mitigate any potential environmental hazards, and the state Department of Emergency Services has been notified, he said.

“It appears the tanks have some containment,” said Karl Rockeman, director of the Water Quality Division of the state Health Department. “We’ll see if it reaches any waterways and evaluate it for any groundwater contamination. There isn’t generally a lot of groundwater in that area. It’s pretty deep down.”