Lightning Blasts Crater Into Fort Worth Parking Lot

A powerful lightning bolt hit a Fort Worth parking lot Wednesday morning, opening a 15-foot hole in the concrete, authorities say.

The Fort Worth Fire Department tweeted lightning struck near a Chevron gas station, at the intersection of Shadydell Drive and Boat Club Road, just before sunrise.

Mike Drivdahl, with FWFD, said crews responded around 6:15 a.m. and found debris and a roughly 15-by-15-foot hole in the ground.

"We did confirm with the owner of that gas station through video surveillance that it was a lightning strike in that area that caused that explosion, for lack of words," Drivdahl said. "When it's 15-by-15 and concrete that was 6 inches thick, that's a pretty massive explosion."

No one was hurt by the blast, but employees at nearby shops said the lightning was so powerful they felt it. 

"It was so loud that me and the baker were amazed at just how loud it was. We looked at each other and we couldn’t believe what happened," said Wendy Jimenez, who works at nearby Ann's Donuts. "At the moment when it happened, I smelled something. It smelled like gas. I was like, 'Where is the gas coming from?' We don't have anything here that has gas."

The explosion caused chunks of concrete to fly, with some landing about 75 feet away. 

Andrew Keese with the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality told NBC 5 that preliminary information indicated lightning struck the concrete above one of the underground storage tanks that contained diesel fuel.

No active leaks were observed, Keese said. 

TCEQ was on-site Wednesday, along with construction and supply companies.

Glen Harrell, general manager of J&N Supply, said their role was to "back up" TCEQ.

"Right now, they're testing the [fuel] lines to make sure there's not product leaking into the grounds," Harrell said. "We've got the spill pads out there to keep it out of the storm drain."

All in all, fire officials said this could have been much worse.

"Primarily, their diesel tank was affected, which was actually a good thing. Diesel's less explosive when it comes to that kind of thing. It's flammable, but the vapers are not quite as explosive as gasoline," Drivdahl said. "I think we're very lucky that nobody was in the parking lot at the time, because there could have been some injuries for sure."

The damage was done as heavy thunderstorms swept across the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

A Freeze Watch will be in effect Wednesday night through Thursday morning.

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