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.