Lightning Strikes Propane Tanks In Eureka Springs; Fire Erupts

EUREKA SPRINGS (KFSM) --  Propane tanks were struck by lightning and burst into flames at Beaver Lakefront Cabins in Eureka Springs, according to Grassy Knob Fire Chief Bob McVey,

The huge fire forced guest evacuations shortly after 1:30 a.m. on Sunday (Oct. 22).

Initially, the call was reported as trees on fire; however, approaching the scene it appeared it was more than trees on fire, according to McVey.

"While responding, one could see that the sky was orange," wrote McVey on Facebook, "fire was nearly 40 feet high above the trees and roaring like a jet engine."

McVey said that the resort had about 7,000 gallons of propane tanks on hand.

"With the relief valve blowing fire, it is one fire you don't want to put out because if you can't stop the leak, propane (that is heavier than air) will seek out an ignition source," said McVey explaining that that's why the tanks were left to burn.

Crews stood by until the fire died down and then made an attempt to cool the tanks.  However, a staging area was created when it was noticed that one tank was bulging.  Since the patrons had been evacuated, caution tape was placed across the driveway and the fire was left to burn until all the product was gone.

Grassy Knob Fire Department received assistance from Inspiration Point Rural Fire Department, Eureka Springs Fire and AR Forestry.

Some of the guests used the Grassy Knob Fire Station/Community Center as a shelter.  No injuries were reported, according to the fire chief.  The area was cleared by 10 a.m., but is still burning in some areas.

"Nobody got hurt, no buildings were lost," McVey told 5NEWS, "...and in 40 years this is a first for me in a situation that could have been a lot worse."