Authorities in Texas say that they expect a massive chemical fire at a Houston-area petrochemical storage site to keep burning until at least Thursday (March 21). The fire began on Sunday when a naphtha tank started leaking. The highly volatile chemical caught on fire, which quickly spread to seven other nearby tanks, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the sky. Firefighters managed to extinguish the flames in one of the tanks, leaving six still burning.
Officials plan to drain the tanks, which contain petrochemicals used to produce gasoline, to deprive the fire of the fuel it needs to keep burning. They expect that it will take two days to empty the massive storage tanks completely.
Residents of nearby Deer Park were ordered to shelter in place on Sunday and classes at local schools were canceled on Monday. The order was lifted on Monday afternoon after the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality determined that the air quality near the fire was safe. The presence of the chemicals was detected in air quality tests about six miles from the site of the massive blaze, but officials say the concentration levels were not considered hazardous.