HOUSTON – Almost nine months after a fire at the Intercontinental Terminals Company Deer Park petrochemical facility, the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives released their final report on the incident, finding that the fire was “likely caused by a failure within the manifold power frame of Tank 80-8.” It was ruled accidental.
The fire started on Sunday, March 17. It blazed on for days with officials reporting it was “under control” on March 23. HCFMO investigators were not allowed into the “hot zone” of the burned petrochemical facility until April 9, officials wrote in the report.
“The failure within the power frame resulted in an uncontained release of Naphtha enriched with Butane. Foul play and malicious intent along with other unintentional causes were ruled out by investigators,” officials wrote in the report. “Investigators were unable to rule out various other failure scenarios within the seal pot and coolant assembly, along with failures involving the electric motor of the power frame or the potential ignition of the free-flowing, ungrounded ignitable liquid. Based upon the interviews of the employees, witnesses and the field examination the nature of this fire is classified as Accidental, per the description in NFPA 921.”
The report found ITC did not have an automatic sprinkler alarm or automatic alarm system. The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office told KPRC 2 that the ITC facility was built before Harris County adopted a fire code and the HCFMO did not have the authority to inspect the facility before the fire.
After serving ITC subpoenas, investigators found that about 9,000 gallons or 220 barrels of Butane enriched Naphtha was released into the air during a 30-minute timeframe.
“Our hope is that lessons are learned from these findings, and these types of incidents will be prevented in the future,” Harris County Fire Marshal Laurie L. Christensen said in a press release.
See a timeline of how the ITC Deer Park fire played out here.
You can read the full final report into the ITC Deer Park investigation below: