The Real Thing
On July 19th, 1996 at 04:36:42 GMT (00:36:42 local time), a lightning bolt struck the roof of a 140 foot diameter gasoline blending component storage tank at the Sunoco, Sarnia Refinery, causing an explosion which blew part of the floating roof out of the tank and ignited the contents.

Photo By Glenn Ogilvie of The Sarnia Observer

For a sense of scale, note the fire truck on the road in front of the fire.

This type of emergency, known as a fully involved tank fire, places the highest demand on the resources of the responding companies and was, for that reason, the focus of a disaster planning exercise less than one year before this event.


Click here for 539K, 7 second AVI video clip.

The Tank

The tank, seen here before the fire, is 140 feet in diameter with a floating roof


The lightning strike which caused the damage is captured here on a video tape image taken by Const. T. Cox of the Ontario Provincial Police.

Initial Damage

The lightning strike caused an explosion which blew part of the floating roof out of the tank.

The Fire

The 140 foot diameter tank provided sufficient surface area for the production of flames reaching 200 - 250 feet in height.

Note - several pictures at this and the next two locations - may take some time to load.

Fighting The Fire

Fighting this fire required vast resources in terms of people, apparatus, water and foam.


No one company has the resources to deal with an event of this magnitude. Without an effective mutual aid organization like CVECO, success would not have been possible.

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