Deer Park residents concerned for health, safety after petrochemical storage facility fire

DEER PARK, Texas – Sunday afternoon the city of Deer Park told residents to shelter-in-place after a fire at a petrochemical storage facility. 

Since 10:30 a.m. smoke billowed from a tank at International Terminals Company (ITC) Deer Park.  A spokesperson for the company said the fire spread to a second tank. 

Neighbors who live in Deer Park could see the black plume of smoke all day from their backyards and garages.  

“It's gotten fuller, at the top and it's just real dark,” said Sandi Pentecost, who lives about a mile away from the chemical storage facility. 

She and other neighbors reported hearing the neighborhood siren go off.  They then received an alert on their phone, heard by word of mouth or through social media about the shelter-in-place. 

"The kids are really scared, I mean they went and packed little suitcases and stuff in case we have to evacuate. The adults, we're calm,  but yet, that inner fear of what's going to happen, we don't know,” explained Pentecost. 

Pentecost said while she was concerned, at the same time she believed the authorities would get the situation under control. 

"It was kind of scary at first you know because I've never seen anything that dramatic and talking to family and friends that are over there was a  little scary,” said Pennie Tinker, another neighbor who has lived in Deer Park for more than 20 years. 

She said she knows the risks that come with living in the area.

“It comes with the territory and you’re going to be warned if anything happens, as soon as you see something, you know or you just watch the news or get your information,” said Tinker. 

She said she believes the wind helped keep the smoke away from her side of the neighborhood, which is why she believes she didn’t smell anything.  

"If you can tell it was kind of going that way, not this way, but, yeah, I haven't noticed anything,” explained Tinker. 

A man who lives on the border of La Porte and Deer Park said he didn’t feel too well when he went outside Sunday morning. 

“When I walked out and started sitting down I noticed a rush of not feeling well, my head started hurting real bad like a migraine and my neck starting to tense up real tight,” said Joseph Cash. 

According to the Harris County OHSEM, FEMA suggests that during a “shelter in place” people should bring their family and pets inside, lock doors, close windows, air vents and fireplaces. They suggest people turn off fans, air conditioning and forced air heating systems.