Emergency officials said a chemical fire Thursday morning caused containers to burst at a flooded plant in Crosby, Texas, northeast of Houston.
Company leaders also said they have no way to stop the fire.
Arkema Inc. originally reported that two explosions happened when the chemicals inside containers at the plant began to burn. According to NPR, local officials in Harris County stressed that the fire did not cause an explosion, but did cause containers holding the chemicals to burst.
Explosions and Smoke Reported at our Arkema Inc. Crosby Plant https://t.co/j2K6RYwMZ8
— ARKEMA (@Arkema_group) August 31, 2017
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzales said that 15 responding deputies which got close to the plant went to the hospital to get treatment for exposure to non-toxic irritants. He described it as “standing over a barbecue pit or something like that,” and said the fumes were not a danger to the public.
— Harris Co. FMO (@hcfmo) August 31, 2017
The organic peroxides which burned are used in construction and pharmaceutical creation according to Arkema. The company said these chemicals burn when not kept at low temperatures, and the flooding at the plant was much worse than their initial hurricane plans were prepared for.
According to CNBC, Arkema’s CEO said they have already evacuated the plant which is under six feet of water. As a result, there is no way for them to safely cool down the chemicals and prevent the fires from creating other explosions, something they expect to happen within the next six days.