By Associated Press - Monday, April 11, 2016

EL DORADO, Ark. (AP) - Thunderstorms with high winds and frequent lightning rolled across Arkansas’ southern counties on Monday, bowling over trees and starting a number of fires.

Forecasters at the Storm Prediction Center said the threat could last into Monday evening over the southern two-thirds of the state. The chance of tornadoes was low, but not zero.

Lightning or static electricity triggered a fire in a storage tank at an oil processing plant at El Dorado. Bobby Braswell, the director of the Union County Emergency Management Service, said the fire was out.

“It was a storage tank with a little bit of oil left in it,” Braswell said. “We don’t know if it was a lightning strike or static from the line that caught it on fire.”

He said two or three other fires occurred in the county. “I know there was one at a church that was lightning-related,” he said.

Forecasters at the Storm Prediction Center said all parts of Arkansas had some level of risk from severe storms. They said the worst weather would occur in the southwestern quarter of the state. Damage reports, often mentioning trees down, were sent to forecasters pointing out the storm’s impact along a path from Texarkana to Magnolia to El Dorado. Forecasters issued tornado warnings for a time but there was no immediate confirmation that a twister touched down.

A line of strong storms also crossed western and central portions of Arkansas before sun-up Monday, briefly hitting severe levels.

The Storm Prediction Center said an enhanced risk of storms is possible from east Texas into southeastern Oklahoma and central Arkansas. A slight risk of storms reaches from the Gulf Coast to northern Arkansas.

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