The Latest: 137,000 gallons of foam used to battle fire

Posted on Tuesday, March 19th, 2019 By The Associated Press


A plume of smoke from a petrochemical plant fire in Deer Park can be seen from the 31st floor of a downtown office building Monday, March 18, 2019, in Houston. The large fire at a Houston-area petrochemicals terminal will likely burn for another two days, authorities said Monday, noting that air quality around the facility was testing within normal guidelines. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP)

HOUSTON (AP) — The Latest on fire burning at a Texas petrochemical facility (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

Officials say fire crews have used 137,000 gallons of foam to fight a fire at a Houston-area petrochemicals storage facility where a large blaze is burning eight storage tanks filled with gasoline components.

Ray Russell with Channel Industries Mutual Aid, an organization that coordinates rescue and emergency capabilities of the local petrochemical industry, said Tuesday afternoon that fire crews are expected to use more foam as officials are unsure when the blaze will be extinguished.

Russell says crews battling the blaze have now taken an offensive stance against the fire and officials could have a better idea by Wednesday morning how long "this situation is going to last."

The fire at the Intercontinental Terminals Company facility in Deer Park, located southeast of Houston, began on Sunday.

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1:30 p.m.

Authorities say a plume of pitch-black smoke from a fire at a Houston-area petrochemicals terminal is traveling thousands of feet into the atmosphere and lessening concerns about air quality in the region.

Harris County's top administrator, Judge Lina Hidalgo, said at a news conference Tuesday that the plume is moving at least 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) into the air and staying high enough so that the air quality is not cause for alarm.

Officials say the fire that began Sunday at the Intercontinental Terminals Company in Deer Park, southeast of Houston, remains intense enough to create its own micro weather system, causing shifting winds in the area.

Harris County Health Authority Dr. Umair Shah says "there continues to be low risk to our community," but explains that vulnerable groups such as the elderly should be cautious.

There have been no reports of injuries from the fire.

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11:30 a.m.

Officials say it's unclear how long it will take to extinguish a fire at a Houston-area petrochemicals storage facility where a large blaze is burning several storage tanks filled with gasoline components.

Harris County Fire Marshal Laurie Christensen said at a news conference Tuesday that she doesn't know how long it will take for the fire to burn itself out.

Officials previously said the fire at the Intercontinental Terminals Company facility in Deer Park could burn itself out by Wednesday. The fire started Sunday.

Authorities say a drop in water pressure caused the fire to intensify overnight and spread to additional storage tanks.

Company officials said Tuesday that five tanks are still burning and three have burned out. Two tanks that didn't have anything in them have collapsed.

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9:40 a.m.

Authorities say a drop in water pressure caused a large fire at a Houston-area petrochemicals terminal to intensify overnight and spread to additional storage tanks.

The Deer Park Office of Emergency Management says the fire spread early Tuesday to two additional tanks, bringing to eight the total number of tanks overwhelmed by flames at Intercontinental Terminals Company in Deer Park, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) southeast of Houston.

Two of the tanks were empty but the others contain components of gasoline and materials used in nail polish remover, glues and paint thinner.

The water pressure later normalized and authorities say the fire could continue to burn for at least another day.

Students returned to classes Tuesday but outside activities will be restricted as the fire continues to emit a huge plume of smoke that can be seen for miles.


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