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Lightning suspected in fire at North Carolina gasoline 'tank farm'

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Lightning sparks huge gas fire
  • Lightning suspected in major fire at gasoline pipeline company
  • A tank holding 20,000 barrels of gasoline caught fire
  • Firefighters used foam to extinguish blaze
  • Fire closed portions of Interstate 40

(CNN) -- Lightning strikes apparently caused a major fire at a gasoline pipeline company's "tank farm" in North Carolina early Sunday morning, fire officials said.

The blaze started at Colonial Pipeline Company in Greensboro after midnight, said David Douglas, an assistant fire chief in Greensboro.

A tank holding about 20,000 barrels of gasoline -- about half that tank's capacity -- caught fire. While some of the gasoline burned, some of it was safely transferred to another tank, according to Steve Baker, Colonial Pipeline's director of communications.

Firefighters used foam to extinguish the flames on the tank, Baker said, adding that Greensboro firefighters kept water hoses trained on other tanks in the sprawling complex to keep them cool and prevent the fire from spreading.

The huge facility is near Piedmont Triad International Airport, and the massive blaze sent plumes of smoke throughout the area.

The blaze caused the temporary closure of a portion of Interstate 40, the North Carolina Department of Transportation said.

There were no evacuations, Douglas said.

CNN's Divina Mims contributed to this story.