When fire erupted March 17 at the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC), a Houston-based bulk liquid storage terminal that provides services to the petrochemical industry, sources predicted the fire could last days. They were correct. On March 19 the fire spread to two additional tanks bringing the total number of tanks engulfed in flames to eight. In total, 11 tanks have been damaged. Authorities say a drop in water pressure may have complicated efforts to get the fires under control.
On March 20, ITC issued a statement saying the tank fires were finally controlled. “As of 3:00 a.m. today, the firefighting crews on the scene of the ITC Tank Farm Fire are reporting that all tank fires have been extinguished. Crews continue to spray foam and water on the tanks to facilitate cooling and prevent reigniting of the remaining material.”
ITC has said all employees have been accounted for and no injuries have been reported.
According to an article in The Houston Chronicle, “It's unknown how full the 11 damaged tanks were prior to the fire, and how full they are now. The tank that sparked the incident — 80-8, a tank of naphtha in the middle of the 15-tank block — was the fullest, with 72,000 barrels. Another had 60,000 barrels, and several others were well below that, said David Wascome, vice president of operations at ITC.”
The tanks that burned contained gasoline blends, base oil, pyrolysis gasoline, naptha and xylene. Two of the tanks were empty, officials said. Each tank can hold 80,000 barrels.
"Reignition is possible, but with every passing hour, our risk of that is reduced," ITC spokeswoman Alice Richardson said March 20 in the Houston Chronicle article. "Our goal is to be good neighbors — good neighbors to our industry, good neighbors to our community. We're sorry for what has happened."