DEER PARK, Texas – On Tuesday afternoon, the plume of smoke from the Deer Park ITC chemical fire blanketed the skies in the north and northwest parts of Houston.
“I actually noticed it around lunch time over in the neighborhood,” said Nicholas Smith, who lives in the Klein Champions Forest area. “I thought a storm was coming. I didn’t know if it was a fire close by, like a home fire or a car fire. I didn’t know it was the smog coming over from Deer Park.”
Meteorologists predicted that wind would push the smoke north, causing the area to become gray and cloudy.
“I kind of knew it was Deer Park smoke. I knew it was coming from the smog and the refineries and all that,” explained Trey Just, a friend of Smith’s who lives in the area. “You just got to hope for the best and that it doesn’t affect us.”
Harris County officials reassured the public Tuesday afternoon that they are currently monitoring air conditions and claim it’s currently safe.
Even though the smoke plume was visible to more people Tuesday afternoon, it was 5,000 to 6,000 feet above the ground in the afternoon.
Klein and Spring ISD said they monitored the conditions and consulted with local emergency officials. The smoke did not cause them to cancel class or extracurricular activities.
Even with the OK from officials, some students said their teachers didn’t take any chances.
“We weren’t allowed to go outside, because we were supposed to do some type of project outside for science, but we weren’t able to and I knew something was up because the sky was really dark,” said Jordan Smith, who attends an intermediate school in Klein ISD. “On the forecast, it was wasn’t supposed to be cloudy, it was supposed to be sunny, so I kind of knew something was up, plus our teacher was very good at alerting us.”
“We were in PE; our coach told us we can’t go outside because he told us about the incident that happened and he said he doesn’t want to put us in danger if we breathe it in,” said Ayden Torrres, who attends school a junior high in Spring ISD.
Even though many people live far from Deer Park, seeing the smoky skies gave them perspective for how massive the chemical fire is.
“Now I know it’s kind of big because it’s that far and you can kind of see it over here. I was just hoping that the people over there were OK and that everything was good,” Jordan Smith said.