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Highway 87 reopens after tank fire in Newton County

A crude oil fire in extreme southern Newton County late Wednesday afternoon resulted in Highway 87 being shut down and traffic rerouted for several hours. Meanwhile, several fire departments were called in to battle the blaze as officials on the county and state level were monitoring the incident.

The blaze began at about 4:00 at a small oil storage facility in the Hartburg Community just north of Abes Drive, and just inside the Newton County line.

Officials on the ground said that as of 6:00 p.m., at least 6 of the approximately 18 above ground tanks had already burned with some exploding, and several others were on fire.

Several fire departments from both Newton and Orange Counties were working to contain the blaze, while deputies from Orange and Newton County along with state troopers and Texas Department of Transportation employees were assisting to reroute traffic around the incident.

Sheriff Billy Rowles said that Highway 87 reopened shortly after 8:00 Wednesday evening.

There were no reports of any injuries.

Meanwhile, some of those at the scene were speculating that a lightning strike from thunderstorms in the vicinity may have hit one of the tanks causing the initial fire. However, that was strictly speculation with no official confirmation.

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