CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Fire investigators believe lightning may have sparked a fire that set an ethanol tank ablaze at the fuel tank farm near Paw Creek Saturday afternoon.

Flames shot 20 to 30 feet in the air above the40,000 gallontank at Eco Energy Corp. as firefighters arrived on scene just after 4:15 p.m.

The explosion shook homes up to two miles away. Owen Flowe said it rattled his windows.

We were outside, and thought it was thunder from snow, said Flowe. Then I saw the green muicipal trucks going down the street and I said, 'Jesus, surely it's no airplane'.

More than 70 firefighters got the flames under control in an hour and a half using water and foam. There were no injuries.

Heavy snow falling in the area at the time did not hamper firefighters' efforts, according to Charlotte Fire Dept.'sCapt. Mark Basnight.

Basnight said crews train for emergencies like this one at the tank farm.

Investigators are checking data from the National Weather Service to see if a lightning strike was the possible cause. Another possible cause is static discharge.

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