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Fire on Nicholson Drive may have been caused by lightning

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BATON ROUGE – Firefighters extinguished a burning oil tank fire overnight after it was likely struck by lightning.

"A resident on a nearby street reported hearing a loud boom and something hit their roof," St. George Fire Department Spokesperson Eldon Ledoux said.

The tank exploded and became a raging inferno that burned for hours off Nicholson Drive near Bluebonnet around 8 p.m. Friday as heavy thunderstorms moved through the region.  On WBRZ weather software, Chief Forecaster Pat Shingleton said he noticed a lighting strike.  Shingleton said computer data he extrapolated showed as many as 67 lightning strikes in the Gardere community, the area of the fire. 

Friday Night Lightning

Check this out! Some awesome video of lightning striking over Baton Rouge, courtesy of News 2 photographer Randy LeDuff. If you have any weather video or pictures, send them to us at news@WBRZ.com

Posted by WBRZ Channel 2 on Friday, March 18, 2016

The fire, which WBRZ.com was first to report Friday, burned one of five oil tanks at a storage farm.  The tank held about 45 barrels of oil - about 2,025 gallons - and none of it escaped, the fire department said.  Firefighters allowed the blaze to burn for a while and eventually sprayed foam on the tank and was able to extinguish the fire just before midnight.

Ledoux said the noise homeowners heard on their roof was a piece of the tank that flew into the air when the initial explosion happened.  The roof of the home was damaged, but no one was hurt.

Other area fire crews assisted with the situation Friday including BRFD HazMat, LA State Police HazMat and DEQ.  The state monitored air quality and found there was no danger to the public at any time, Ledoux said.

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