Thirty-Thousand Barrel, Diesel Fuel Tank Catches Fire In West Fargo

It took fire crews up to eight hours to extinguish the flames

WEST FARGO, N.D. —┬áPeople in West Fargo woke up to an alert telling them to stay inside, after a diesel tank fire sent out smoke circulating in the air for miles.

The shelter advisory lasted for hours as fire crews worked to put out the flames.

“It’s kind of scary and kind of amazing at the same time. Amazing that it can even happen because you know you live here and see these tankers all the time. Just the amount of smoke is just kind of amazing. Not amazing necessarily in a good way but just like ‘oh wow’,” said Angela Bigelow.

The long stretch of black smoke in the air was the result of a diesel fuel tank fire at Magellan Pipeline Company.

The tank can carry up to 43,000 barrels of fuel but only had 30,000 when the blaze started.

West Fargo police sent out an alert to anyone living within five miles of the industrial plant to stay inside due to the smoke.

“Danger is really more on an individual basis based upon if you have a prior history of say COPD or something like that,” said Jerry Boyer, assistant police chief at the West Fargo Police Department. “Obviously smoke and fire is not going to help you in that situation so those are the people that we really want to make sure they’re staying inside.”

“It was kind of shocking. You’re used to getting a few alerts here and there but it seemed really crazy. You don’t hear about a lot of fires at that magnitude and a five mile radius to stay inside,” said Sue Bertsch.

It took about eight hours for the West Fargo Fire Department to put out the flames.

The Fargo Fire Department, BNSF, the Hector Fire Department, the National Guard Fire Department and a drone team out of Grand Forks also assisted.

“There was approximately 400,000 gallons of water that was used along with 500 gallons of foam used to get us to this point where we’re at now,” Boyer said.

When the foam was applied, the smoke instantly turned from black to white.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

No one was injured.

West Fargo neighbors say although they’ve never seen anything like this; they’ve realized just how important the firefighters are to this community.

“We’ve lived here for 16 plus years and never have seen anything like this ever,” Bigelow said. “I mean I know we have the fire department and they’re awesome and they’re mostly volunteers but I can’t even remember the last time I saw a fire in West Fargo at all, let alone something like this.”

“Just goes to show how well all the first responders in this area work together. It’s something that we’re very proud of in this area, in this city, in our metro area. Everybody comes to help,” Boyer said.

All West Fargo Public School and West Fargo Park District events northbound of the interstate were cancelled because of the fire.

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