What has become a massive chemical fire at the Intercontinental Terminals
Company facility located on Independence Parkway in Deer Park started
on March 17, 2019. Overnight between March 18 and 19 the Deer Park ITC
fire significantly worsened. Attempts by firefighters to extinguish the
blaze have been to no avail as the flames engulfed not just the initial
chemical tank that caught fire at the facility but multiple other containment
tanks on the premises. The inferno now encompasses sink chemical storage
tanks at the Deer Park ITC facility.
The local fire marshal has announced that immediately containing the fire
seems impossible. Indeed, it is likely that the fire will spread even
further at the facility. The fire marshal advised that effectively fighting
the massive blaze may not be possible until all of the fuel in the tanks
ablaze is fully consumed. The fire marshal could offer no definitive timetable
for how long it might take for all of the fuel and chemicals contained
in the various tanks to burn off. In addition, over night the fire expanded
to two more tanks and further expansion of the blaze cannot be ruled out.
As a result of what now is an uncontrolled and expanding Deer Park fire,
a black plume of smoke has arisen and spread from Deer Park across the
Houston are to Austin. At the present time, the smoke from the blaze is
higher in the atmosphere at a point that is lessening its impact on residents
in Deer Park, Houston, and elsewhere. As of midday, air quality levels
in areas impacted by the smoke were rated moderate, with not immediate
health risk to residents.
The moderate rating is one step below that at which air quality becomes
unhealthy for certain sensitive groups of area residents. This would include
people with lung and heart disease, older people, and younger children.
In addition to the plume of smoke arising higher into the air prevailing
weather conditions are also contributing to air quality remaining below
hazardous levels as a result of the Deer Park fire. The warm, dry afternoon
weather conditions are keeping the plume of smoke, and associated soot,
over 1,000 feet into the air. This keeps it well away from people on the ground.
Deer Park ITC had a press conference. Company spokesperson Alice Richardson
was tearful during the press briefing and explained people were not in
jeopardy because of the fire or the smoke being emitted from the blaze.
Originally, a tank containing naphtha was burning. Naphtha is a chemical
used in gasoline. As noted previously, eight tanks ended up being ablaze,
containing different chemicals. As a result, different chemicals were
burning and contributing to the smoke plume.
How Long Will the Fire Last?
Understanding that the fire is not expected to be controlled let alone
put out, immediately, weather conditions for the remainder of the week
are being monitored. As of Tuesday, the prevailing weather conditions
enjoyed in the area impacted by the Deer Park fire are expected to remain
in place at least through Saturday. Thus, representatives of Deer Park
ITC and local health agencies are advising that no threat to health of
residences in the impacted areas is anticipated. With that noted, the
reality is that with slight changes in the weather, the smoke plume could
end up hovering closer to the ground and more directly impact residents
in the affected areas.
The shelter in place order was lifted on Monday for residents of Deer Park.
However, schools in that community were shuttered that day. The schools
did reopen on Monday, but a number of parents kept their children at home
over concerns with health hazards associated with the Deer Park fire.
Visually, the ominous looking deep black plume of smoke arising above the
Deer Park ITC fire has left some area residents concerned about safety
issues despite assurances from plant personnel and area health agencies.
The reality is that the possibility exists that some health problems associated
with exposure to gasses, smoke, and smoot being emitted from the Deer
Park fire might not exhibit themselves until a future date. For this reason,
some area residents are exercising caution when it comes to spending time
out of doors.
Contact The Doan Law Firm
Questions regarding the legal ramifications of enduring health issues associated
with events like the Deer Park fire, as well as from other types of accidents,
can be obtained by calling (832) 835-0000.