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Firefighters trying to control chemical plant fire in Texas

Staff Writer |
Firefighters are still trying on Tuesday to control a fire, which has been burning since Sunday at a petrochemical facility in the U.S. state of Texas.

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The fire, which broke out at the Intercontinental Terminal Company (ITC) Deer Park, about 40 km southeast of downtown Houston, started with one tank and spread to six tanks due to a temporary reduction of water pressure, according to ITC officials.

Emergency responders have been working with foam and water to try to control further spreading, the officials said.

"The water pressure has been restored and responders have been able to fully resume their efforts to fight the fire," officials said on Tuesday.

The ITC Deer Park terminal has 13.1 million barrels of capacity, which it uses to store all kinds of petrochemical liquids and gases, as well as fuel oil, bunker oil and distillates.

ITC officials said the first tank that caught fire contains naphtha, which may cause irritation to eyes and the respiratory system. The fire then spread to a second tank containing xylene, which may cause skin irritation. Both naphtha and xylene are gasoline components.

Another tank that caught fire early Monday morning contains Toluene, which is used in nail polish remover, glue and paint thinner.

According to local weather forecast office, the moderate air quality for the area surrounding the Deer Park fire should slowly improve to good criteria around noon. But by the evening hours when the sun sets, air quality will begin to degrade.

On Tuesday, classes resume at Deer Park after the district canceled classes Monday.

Local officials in Deer Park directed residents to shelter in place due to the fire on Sunday, advising residents to stay indoors, close windows and doors, and keep an ear on local officials for more information.

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