The Petro Guardian team has been working to help our customers protect their assets from lightning for over 20 years, but tank battery fires caused by lightning have been around for far longer. In fact, the first recorded tank battery fire caused by a lightning strike happened over 112 years ago in Avila Beach, California.
4 years before the lightning strike in 1904, oil was found and the Old Maude well started producing. Just like our customers do today, they constructed tanks to store the oil near the well. Years would pass with no issues, but on Jan. 27, 1908 a lightning strike hit tank number 3 at 3:30 pm. The tank housed 50,000 gallons and had no lightning protection. Crews fought the fires for days, but it ended up spreading to two other tanks. Luckily, workers were able to salvage some of the oil being stored by pumping it to tankers in the nearby harbor.
The 1908 Avila fire could have been much worse by all accounts. Unfortunately though, the same area would suffer a devastating fire caused by lightning years later in 1926 when a 1 million gallon tank was lost. Both of these fires served as early lessons about the need for proper lightning protection for tank batteries. New and improved parts and methods would be introduced over the next decades. Even today the Petro Guardian team is developing new techniques to help protect our customer’s assets from Mother Nature.
Interested in learning more about the history of the 1908 fire? Click here.
Today the Petro Guardian team approaches tank battery and saltwater disposal protection from multiple directions. Every customer’s needs are different and we work with their them to develop a customized plan. Components of a protection plan include: