A lightning strike sparked a fire around 5:30 Wednesday morning that engulfed 10 tanks in three tank batteries at a deep well injection disposal site in southwest Wise County.
The site is on the south side of Texas 199, two miles east of Farm Road 920 in the Salt Creek area.
As units from Salt Creek and Boonsville-Balsora volunteer fire departments arrived at the scene, several tanks went up in flames simultaneously.
In a ripple effect, the fire spread from one battery to the remaining two on site, resulting in extensive damage to all 12 tanks – 10 that burned and two that were damaged.
“It was a bit of a close call,” Salt Creek Fire Chief Ken Vise said. “It was beyond our ability to do anything so we staged at the highway and waited two hours for it to burn out. Then we reinitiated the attack just after 7 a.m.”
In the meantime, authorities evacuated a residence within 100 yards of the blaze because of the thick smoke.
Units checked off scene around 8 a.m. but were dispatched back just before noon when a fire at one of the tanks rekindled.
Springtown and Poolville fire departments assisted.
The well site is owned by Wise Disposal LLC. Disposal wells are used to inject wastewater used in the hydraulic fracturing of shale back into the ground. Once a well has been “fracked,” it frees the natural gas from the shale. The wastewater produced in the process is mainly brine with a small amount of fracking chemicals and some hydrocarbons.
The tank batteries by injection wells collect the hydrocarbons, which are gathered and sold for various industrial uses.