HOUSTON (AP) — About 500 gallons of pesticides were stored at a Houston warehouse complex that was consumed by a large blaze and authorities are trying to determine how much ran off into nearby creeks, a fire official said Friday.
It's not clear how much of the pesticide was burned in the fire at the warehouse in west Houston on Thursday, nor how much leaked into adjacent waterways, according to fire Capt. Ruy Lozano. But he said the blaze and subsequent runoff had no impact on the water system so drinking water is safe to consume.
The fire began Thursday morning in a home and spread to the nearby warehouse complex.
Petroleum additives also were stored at the complex and those chemicals fueled the blaze, causing towering plumes of thick billowing smoke that could be seen for miles. Hundreds of students were evacuated from a nearby elementary school.
The cause of the initial fire remains unclear.
The blaze in the Spring Branch section of west Houston engulfed several businesses in the complex and drew nearly 200 firefighters. No injuries were reported.
Environmental contractors were containing the petroleum additives at several points along Spring Branch Creek, but the pesticides are water-soluble and cannot be fully contained or removed from the creek's waters, fire officials said.
The waters in the creeks and bayous nearby remain high because of recent heavy rains and floods, and officials expected that will help dilute the pesticides and minimize their effects.
Lozano said Friday that the remains of the fire were still creating smoke that could prove harmful if inhaled, so people were being asked to stay away from the area.