Firefighting crews at the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) facility in La Porte TX reported that as of 3 am March 20 all the storage tank fires were extinguished. The fires had been blazing without letup since March 17, and a thick black cloud of smoke stretched across the greater Houston area.
Firefighting crews continue to spray foam and water on the burned tanks to facilitate cooling and prevent reigniting of remaining material, according to ITC officials. Although all of the fires have been extinguished at the ITC terminal, steam and smoke are still visible. Reignition is still a possibility, according to ITC officials.
The fire had intensified overnight March 18, due to a temporary loss of water pressure and water resources between the hours of 4 pm and 10 pm, according to ITC officials.
The loss of water pressure was due to the malfunction of two fireboat pumps that were providing water to firefighters operating on the scene, according to ITC officials. Water pressure and water resources have been restored and emergency responders continue working on suppressing the fire on tanks 80-2, 80-3, 80-5, 80-6, 80-8 and 80-11. Tanks 80-9 and 80-12 were empty and have collapsed.
On March 19, ITC officials said in a press release that storage tanks 80-14 and 80-15, both containing pyrolysis gasoline, were confirmed to be on fire.
Emergency responders continue to work with foam and water to control and contain the fire. Additional resources, including specialty third-party firefighting teams, have arrived on site.
Regarding air quality, all detections recorded by CTEH were below levels that would represent a public health concern, ITC officials said in a press release. Individuals with health concerns should contact their health care professionals.
All personnel are accounted for and there have been no serious injuries reported as a result of this incident.
From the onset of this incident, ITC officials said, they have worked closely with first responders around the clock to contain the fire and to be transparent with the community regarding this incident.