BY KENNETH DEAN, firstname.lastname@example.org
A lightning strike is believed to have sparked the explosion and fire at oil/gas separation site off County Road 313 Monday night.
Smith County Assistant Fire Marshal Oren Hale said he had conducted an investigation of the scene and it appeared lightning struck a transformer on a shed at the site.
"I believe it caused a valve on the separation tank to blow and that with the fire it contributed to the explosion," he said.
He explained a storm passed through the area Monday night and witnesses said they saw lightning and then heard an explosion.
However, Hale said the biggest problem was not the fire, but instead the containment berm that collapsed allowing a large quanity of oil, gas and saltwater mixture to spill toward a nearby creek.
Hale said thankfully there was a low spot in the terrain, which allowed the mixture to pool instead of seeping in to the creek.
Hale said the site has since been cleaned by an environmental company and it is now safe.