Massive Houston chemical fire burns indefinitely, spreading smoke across Texas


Massive Houston chemical fire burns indefinitely, spreading smoke across Texas

Trévon Austin

20 March 2019

Officials from the state of Texas and Intercontinental Terminals Co. (ITC) have been monitoring a massive Houston-area chemical fire around the clock since the weekend. Due to the nature of the blaze, firefighters have to let the fire burn itself out but are unsure of when the chemicals will stop burning.

The fire has been raging since Sunday around 10:30 a.m. It began when a tank containing component chemicals for gasoline caught fire at ITC’s petrochemical storage facility in Deer Park, Texas. The fire has since spread to at least six other tanks as firefighters work with foam and water to try to keep the flames from spreading further.

Harris County Fire Marshal Laurie Christensen told reporters there is not an estimate for when the fire will stop burning. Officials had initially stated that the fire would burn out by Wednesday.

“Fuel has burned off,” Christensen told a press conference Tuesday morning. “That may be what has to happen. What I can’t tell you is how long that will take.”

A massive black plume of smoke has billowed from the site and spread over the city of Houston, and continues to move in a north-northwestern direction. The huge column of smoke was visible virtually everywhere in the Houston area on Monday. At the time of this writing, the edge of the smoke plume has reached Austin, approximately 162 miles away.

The fire is located in a section of the facility that contains 15 tanks, and the number of tanks on fire has varied throughout the incident. At a news conference on Tuesday, an ITC spokesperson stated eight tanks were on fire but soon after issued a news release saying seven tanks were ablaze.

Most of the chemicals in the fire…

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