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Emergency vehicles respond to a large fire in an industrial section of Williston, N.D. in the early hours of Tuesday, July 22, 2014. The site is near three oil companies and a rail line, just east of Williston's downtown. Explosions could be seen and heard at the scene. Police attributed them to barrels but didn't immediately say what was in them. No injuries were immediately reported. (AP Photo/Josh Wood)
Fire burns in industrial part of North Dakota town
First Published Jul 22 2014 10:23 am • Last Updated Jul 22 2014 10:23 am

Williston, N.D. • A massive fire broke out early Tuesday at an oil supply company in an industrial part of the western North Dakota oil patch town of Williston.

Authorities have set up an evacuation zone within a half-mile radius of Red River Supply, which is just east of downtown, according to Williams County Emergency Manager Mike Hallesy.

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The fire broke out around midnight Monday, Hallesy said. It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the fire. No injuries were immediately reported, the Williston Herald said.

Occasional fireballs were accompanied by the pop of explosions around 1 a.m., and thick black smoke billowed above the towering flames. Law enforcement officers hurried to evacuate onlookers and reroute traffic.

A regional hazardous response team and North Dakota National Guard officials are monitoring air quality near the site, where the fire was still burning at 6:30 a.m., and a cloud of greyish smoke hung over Williston.

Red River Supply officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The business provides services to oil companies working in North Dakota’s oil patch. It has rail spurs for loading and unloading liquids such as crude oil, and dry goods like drill pipes and casing, according to its website. The company’s website also says it provides storage, blending and delivery of drilling fluids, such as calcium chloride, calcium bromide, calcium nitrate and pot ash.

Emergency responders are expected to remain on scene for the next day or two, Hallesy said.

A stretch of State Highway 1804 is closed.




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