An evacuation order has been lifted for residents after an industrial fire at a recycling plant in the Hockley area Saturday, according to the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office.
The order was lifted just before 3 p.m. Fire crews are still working on some hot spots.
“It was bad. It was smoke and fire and it was black and it was red,” Angenettia Jackson, who lives nearby, said. “It was like oh my god.”
The fire took nine crews over the course of five hours to put out, and forced her from her home. She added that she was in fear for her life.
“I’m just concerned because I only have one life and I want to live it to the fullest and I don’t want to go before my time," she said.
The sheriff’s office first tweeted about the incident at 10:38 a.m.
The recycling plant is located at 17360 Premium Drive near Highway 290, which the Waller County Sheriff's Office has identified as the VLS Recovery facility. Early Saturday, deputies asked residents living within a half mile of the facility to evacuate.
The Harris County Fire Marshal's Office said 60 personnel were on scene from 10 different agencies, including a HazMat crew as well as numerous water tankers.
The materials in the building include used/recycled motor oil and recycled plastics, according to HCFMO.
“This is more or less a processing facility for hazardous waste,” Harris County Pct. 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey said. “What we found is since it’s a lot of plastics, it’s not necessarily a hazard.”
When fire crews arrived on scene they were faced with a lack of water supply but eventually were able to get what they needed to put out the fire.
About two hours after the fire initially ignited, a number of steel drums fell over inside the warehouse causing a larger fire for a short moment, according to HCFMO.
Shortly after 2 p.m., HCFMO said the fire was greatly reduced in size, but water and foam were still being put on the warehouse and the contents burning inside.
“This is a facility that works on those plastics and as we pull hotspots out, you’re going to see that fire, oxygen gets there, you’re going to see a little more smoke comes out,” the fire marshal said.
There was also a small grass fire at the adjacent park, Hockley Recreational Park, that units had to put.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo tweeted there were no fire-related injuries but urged nearby residents to avoid the area.
Investigators say their next priority is finding out what happened and why.
“Believe me, we’re going to be looking at this more going forward, particularly this particular site, what it was permitted to do, what it was not permitted to do so we’re looking into those details now,” Commissioner Ramsey said.
Harris County Pollution Control said it is conducting air monitoring.