ITC Deer Park fire extinguished; San Jacinto College, several local school districts closed as precaution

DEER PARK, Texas — The chemical tank fire that started at Intercontinental Terminal Companies in Deer Park over the weekend has officially been extinguished, the company confirmed early Wednesday.

Heavy smoke stretches across most of Deer Park and La Porte areas Tuesday morning as Harris County firefighters battle chemical tank fire at ITC Deer park.

It was declared extinguished at 3 a.m. Wednesday, according to an ITC statement. For the time being, firefighters will continue to spray the tanks with foam and water in order to speed up the cooling process and to prevent reigniting of the remaining material, company officials said.

"Although all fires have been extinguished at this time, steam and smoke may still be visible from the area and the possibility for reigniting still exists," ITC officials said early Wednesday. "Air monitoring continues and as of this update readings are currently well below hazardous levels."

Multiple school districts and the local college have closed for the day although all that remains at the site is some light, lingering smoke.

WEDNESDAY SCHOOL CLOSURES DUE TO ITC DEER PARK FIRE

  • San Jacinto College
  • Deer Park ISD
  • La Porte ISD
  • Channelview ISD
  • Galena Park ISD
  • Sheldon ISD
  • KIPP Legacy
  • KIPP Polaris
  • KIPP Voyage
  • KIPP Northeast College Prep
  • KIPP Intrepid
  • KIPP Explore
  • KIPP Climb
  • KIPP Prime

The fire is out, but it's clear concerns about air quality remain. Morning Dose heard from health and emergency officials that the tests they are doing aren’t showing that there should be any health risks to the community.

Residents can view the latest air quality reports from the area online at ReadyHarris.org. The website shows air quality based on data that was collected with handheld monitors. Visitors can also see where and when each test was taken.

A spokesperson for ITC, the company at the center of the incident, made a tearful apology during a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

"ITC is very sorry that this unfortunate event— this isn't an event we wanted or planned," ITC spokesperson Alice Richardson said. "Many of my employees work in the city of Deer Park, they live in Deer Park, they are out there fighting this fire the best they can."

Thick, black plumes of smoke continued to stretch across parts of the Deer Park and La Porte areas for a total of three days after flames first ignited at the chemical plant about 10:30 a.m. on St. Patrick's Day.

ITC said about 30 employees were working at the facility when the fire started, but no serious injuries have been reported from worker or the surrounding residents.

Possible causes of the fire have not been shared as the company continues to investigate the incident. However, the company has identified the burning chemicals as naphtha and xylene— both of which are gasoline components and are commonly found in nail polish remover and paint thinner.

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