Lightning reportedly hits storage tank, propels it into Atascocita roadway
ATASCOCITA, TX (KTRK) -- Investigators rushed into northeast Harris County on Saturday after lightning struck a storage tank, sending it flying into the air and landing in the middle of a roadway.
"As I turned, I saw the bolt hit the tank. The tank took off straight up in the air, over the power lines and almost landed on my vehicle," witness Robert Aguilar said.
The tank landed on the roadway in the 5000 block of Old Atascocita Road at Eagle Springs Parkway around 1:30pm.
Aguilar swerved out the way just in time.
"We actually saw it coming down with the ladder attached," he said. "The ladder attached was swirling in circles."
The tank was crushed, and the chemical inside of it was released. Emergency officials say it was methyl mercaptan -- a colorless, flammable gas that gives natural gas its smell.
"We could smell some kind of weird burning smell, like some gas or something," Aguilar recalled.
The chemical can be toxic in high concentrations, so emergency officials issued a shelter in place for nearby residents for a short time until it was cleaned up. The order was lifted just before 3pm.
"I've seen lightning strike twice," Aguilar said. "But this was really intense."
Old Atascocita Road was blocked while crews worked to clear the scene. They moved the tank off of the road and all lanes reopened within a couple of hours.
No injuries were reported.
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