Fireballs, explosions and thick black smoke blanketed parts of Williston, South Dakota as an oil supply company in the industrial part of town burst into flames late Tuesday.
Williston, known for sky-high rents, leaky oil pipes and spills, and so-called man camps, is the main metropolis in the Bakken formation, where crude oil is extracted. The fire broke out around 1 a.m. on July 22 at Red River Supply, Williams County Emergency Manager Mike Hallesy told the Associated Press. An evacuation zone was set up for half a mile around the company’s radius, and officials were letting the fire burn itself out during the day on Tuesday. Flames shot 300 feet into the air, the Williston Herald reported.
Traffic was rerouted both on the ground and in the air, the Associated Press said, as part of State Highway 1804 was closed, and the Federal Aviation Administration restricted flights temporarily at Sloulin Field International Airport while the smoke was evaluated, assistant airport manager Anthony Dudas told AP.
Meanwhile the gray smoke cast a gray pall over Williston, although the main plume did not blow over the city, officials said.