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Timeline: ITC chemical tank fire in Deer Park

The fire burned for three days, sending a black plume of smoke into the air that prompted a Benzene scare, school closures, and shelters-in-place.

DEER PARK, Texas — A week ago, a large chemical fire at a storage facility in Deer Park led to a plume of smoke that spread across much of the Houston area.

The chemicals released in the massive fire caused a Benzene scare, school closures, and shelters-in-place. A manifold leak was blamed as the initial cause of the tank fire.

As the cleanup process continues, here is the order of events surrounding the fire, from when it began to now.

Sunday, March 17:

- The chemical fire ignites at the Intercontinental Terminals Company. 

The portion of the facility that was on fire contained 15 storage tanks in three rows of five. The fire originated right in the middle of them Sunday morning.

Tuesday, March 19:

- Fire crews switch to attack mode to get control of the blaze as the fire continues to burn for the third day in a row. Officials used offensive tactics to combat the eight tanks that were on fire.

Firefighters previously used foam and water to suppress the fire and to protect tanks and pipes.

Wednesday, March 20:

- The fire was put out for several hours but another flare up later in the day had crews battling the blaze again. 

One of the tanks at the facility reignited at 5:21 p.m. Firefighters had the flame out within minutes.

- The plume of smoke moved from east to west across the Houston area and created a smog-like haze over the city.

The lack of rain and fog helped to keep the plume high above the ground.

Thursday, March 21:

- Elevated Benzene levels led to a shelter-in-place for the Deer Park area.

- Several schools districts also closed campuses on Thursday and Friday.

- The shelter-in-place was lifted at 2 p.m.

Friday, March 22:

- A dike wall partially collapsed at the facility leading to chemicals being released into Tucker Bayou and the Houston Ship Channel.

A lawsuit was filed against ITC for violating the Texas Clean Air Act. The lawsuit was filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's Office. 

- No evidence of Benzene was found in the drinking water in Deer Park, the city said.

- Houston ISD cancels all weekend on-campus activities at east area schools. 

READ: Deer Park fire: Your questions, answered

Sunday, March 24:

ITC sends false alarm of another flare up in Deer Park, city says

At 11:36 a.m., the ITC Deer Park facility sent a message saying a chemical fire had occurred there, but the city tweeted at 2:12 p.m. the message was sent by mistake.

Monday, March 25:

- The cleanup process continues. ITC officials held a press conference to discuss the current progress.

"We're happy to say that we've had a very productive couple of days." said an ITC spokeswoman.

- Students return to class after school districts closed campuses because of the fire. For a list of schools that are open on Monday, click here.


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