Petrochemical fire at Texas refinery shuts down highway

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line Digital Content Editor | 3/18/2019

A fire on Sunday at a liquid storage terminal involving petrochemicals shut down a Texas highway and forced locals to shelter in their homes.

Emergency responders in La Porte, Texas, are still working to control the fire, which was first reported at 10:22 a.m. Sunday. No injuries have been reported. A news release issued by International Terminals Co., where the fire started, states that firefighters are using foam to contain the blaze and mitigate the risk of explosion. La Porte is near Houston.

The fire began in two tanks storing naptha and xylene, which are components in gasoline. The fire then spread to five other tanks holding gas blend stocks and base oil commonly used as machine lubricant.

Officials are also monitoring the air quality of nearby Deer Park, Texas, which issued a shelter in place order to residents on Sunday. Texas Highway 225 was temporarily closed on Sunday. Portions of nearby Independence Parkway remain closed until further notice.

Public health officials are monitoring the air quality of the surrounding communities.

Danny Schnautz, an OOIDA board member from Pasadena, Texas, says the smoke plume from the fire is visible from his office windows.

“I’m less than 5 miles away,” Schnautz said in a phone interview with Land Line Now on Monday morning. “Out my office window, I can see it rising. The wind is blowing the smoke to the west.”

Schnautz says drivers coming to the area for deliveries in Deer Park, Pasadena or La Porte, should have dispatchers check with the shipper or receiver first to make sure the location is open and accessible.

“There’s no reason to drive in just to be turned away,” he said.

Land Line Now News Anchor Terry Scruton contributed to this report.



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