The Latest: Pesticides, petroleum additives found in runoff

AP News
Posted: May 05, 2016 9:32 PM

HOUSTON (AP) — The Latest on a warehouse complex fire in Houston (all times local):

8:15 p.m.

Authorities have concluded that pesticides and petroleum additives have entered the runoff from fire-fighting efforts at a Houston warehouse complex.

A Houston Fire Department statement says environmental contractors were containing the petroleum additives Thursday at several points along Spring Branch Creek. But the pesticides are water-soluble and cannot be contained or removed from the creek's waters.

The fire department statement says the waters in the creeks and bayous nearby are still high because of recent heavy rains and floods. Officials expect that will help dilute the pesticides and minimize their effects.

In the meantime, officials are warning the public to avoid the affected areas of Spring Branch Creek and ditches, canals and culverts until further notice.


3:25 p.m.

Houston officials have lifted their shelter-in-place warning for those in a neighborhood near an earlier fire and explosion at a warehouse complex.

The Houston Fire Department said Thursday afternoon that the fire took place at the Custom Packaging and Filling Co. in the Spring Branch section of western Houston, and that it was under control.

Officials say the fire started in a nearby house and spread to the warehouse complex. The initial cause hasn't been determined.

Emergency officials said they couldn't reach anybody with the business who could advise what was burning and emitting the dense, black smoke. Authorities feared the fire was releasing hazardous chemicals earlier Thursday, which they said may have included pesticides and a petroleum-based solvent.

Because of hazardous materials, officials had ordered people in nearby homes and businesses to stay inside, close all windows and shut off air conditioning. An elementary school was evacuated, too. No injuries have been reported.


1 p.m.

Officials say they're still working to identify what hazardous materials were released into the air during a warehouse complex fire in Houston but think pesticides might have been involved.

Houston Fire Department spokesman Ruy Lozano says investigators are waiting to speak with the property owners so they can help identify the products that burned Thursday.

Lozano says an alert ordering people in nearby homes and businesses to stay inside, close all windows and shut off any air conditioning was still in effect on Thursday afternoon.

Lozano says investigators think one of the products was a petroleum-based solvent.

The department says no injuries have been reported and firefighters were focused on putting out hot spots after the blaze had been brought under control.


10:45 a.m.

A fire at a warehouse complex in Houston has sent towering plumes of black smoke into the air.

Emergency personnel were dispatched to an industrial area in the western part of the city on Thursday morning, as the fire burned several structures.

Officials had no immediate reports of anyone hurt. The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

The fire broke out on a clear day with temperatures in the 70s and gusts of about 10 mph.