Casper, WY Oil Tank Fires, Jul 1921

On July 2 another tank, located almost in the center of the refinery plant, on the south side of the river, was struck by lightning. Fanned by a brisk southwest wind, the blaze jeopardized nor only the other tanks in its proximity, but the entire refining plants of the Midwest and Standard companies, whose valuation was at least twenty millions of dollars, were in jeopardy. The flames shooting skyward, the burning timbers from the wooden top of the tank falling into the flood of burning oil, the prevailing high wind, and the tank being full of oil to the very top and the foamite failing to have any effect, were causes enough to lead the officials of the company to believe that the
seven tanks of oil destroyed only a few weeks before, would be a small loss, compared to this one, but in half an hour the wind swerved to the northwest, the oil in the tank bad burned down about four inches, and the foamite was effectively used, and then the blaze was under control, and in a short time was entirely subdued, with very small loss.

Another tank, on the north side of the river, containing 80,000 barrels of oil, was struck by lightning on July 13, at about 6 o'clock in the evening. About 50,000 barrels of the oil was drawn from the bottom of the tank and salvaged, but the loss of the oil and the destruction of the tank amounted to about $50,000. And again on July 18 two more tanks on the north side of the river were struck by lightning. Out of the 155,000 barrels of oil in these two tanks 85,000 barrels were salvaged by being pumped out. The fire in one of the tanks was extinguished after considerable oil had burned, but the other was a total loss, the oil burning for about sixty hours, and during those sixty hours the stupendous sight of the rushing blasts, caused by the rarefied air, roared and whirled forth the flames in impetuous wreaths, the scene of the sheets of flame and clouds of lurid smoke, which, in the night time, resembled the craters of volcanoes, were awe-inspiring and a scene never to be forgotten.

The four fires, from June 17 to July 18, all of which were caused from lightning, resulted in a loss of fully a million dollars, and dispelled the axiom that "lightning never strikes twice in the same place," which, no doubt, originated before there were any oil tank farms.

History of Natrona County, Wyoming, 1888-1922 by Alfred James Mokler, 1923