Warehouse fire prompts shelter in place

Fire officials: Bundles of paper may smolder for days

HOUSTON - A massive warehouse fire in east Houston prompted fire officials to order a shelter in place.

The fire broke out Sunday afternoon at a warehouse on Kress near Old Clinton Road.

Investigators said the fire began in a small shed, but quickly grew after it was fanned by 18 mile-per-hour gusts of winds, and fed by pallets of scrap paper and cardboard.

Around noon, investigators said the fire was sending up a thick, black column of smoke that could be seen for miles.

At one point, firefighters said they worried the smoke drifting over neighborhoods to the north might be toxic. That's when officials called for a shelter in place.

"We have air-monitoring people on the opposite side of the building here, and so far, they have not reported any serious conditions at all," said Jay Evans with the Houston Fire Department.

The shelter in place order was later rescinded as firefighters brought the blaze under control. Fire officials said the bundles of paper may smolder for days to come.

"When you have a large fire, the problem is you have to have four to five engines here," said Evans. "Get them hooked up on the plugs so we can really pump a lot of water to be able to put out a fire like this."

Fire officials said crews will remain on the scene throughout Sunday evening to make sure small, spot fires are kept under control.

Fire investigators said they aren't sure what started the fire, but there have been two or three previous fires at the same warehouse.

There were no injuries reported.

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