Just before 11:00 A.M. on Sunday, March 17th, 2019, Deer Park, Texas was rocked by the outbreak of a fire at the Intercontinental Terminals Company, LLC (ITC). It took over 1,100 federal, state, and local first responders, agents, and environmental cleanup contractors to put out the fire that raged for several days and released toxic chemicals into the air. The blaze could be seen for miles around and caused several shelter-in-place warnings for surrounding neighborhoods over the course of several days. While first responders were finally able to extinguish the fire on Wednesday, March 20th, the fire re-ignited only 12 hours later, followed by a break in a dike wall near the facility’s incinerated tanks on Friday, March 22nd, leaking chemicals into Buffalo and Tucker Bayous, causing the closure of parts of the Houston Ship Channel. The fire was eventually contained 10 days after the outbreak. Firefighting foam is being continuously applied by first responders and fire crews to secure the site and prevent another re-ignition.
The days of working to put out a chemical fire comes with a heavy price. First responders have been exposed to dangerous chemicals and ITC needs to be held accountable for the injuries caused in the pursuit of extinguishing the fire at its Deer Park location.
ITC’s facility is located near Highway 225 and Independence Parkway in Deer Park, Texas. This facility consists of fifteen storage tanks for various chemicals including naphtha and xylene (components of gasoline), and toluene (a chemical used to produce nail polish remover, glues, and paint thinner). Also referred to as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), these chemicals pose a serious fire risk and must be handled properly to avoid accidents.
Injuries Suffered By First Responders
Because of the chemicals released into the air – including benzene, a known human carcinogen that has been linked to acute myeloid leukemia (AML), acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma – as the fire raged on, first responders have suffered numerous chemical-related injuries. The most common injuries reported include:
- Coughing and wheezing
- Difficulty breathing
- Burning and irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat
- Light headedness
Our brave first responders should not suffer the consequences of negligent companies. ITC has a long history of both state and federal environmental violations and it should have implemented and followed safety procedures that could have prevented the fire and the injuries the fire caused. ITC needs to be held accountable for its actions.
Representing First Responders
If you are a first responder of the ITC Deer Park fire, don’t wait to contact the experienced attorneys at Blizzard Law, PLLC. We understand the types of challenges these lawsuits present and how to best pursue compensation for victims. We offer free consultations and only work on a contingency fee basis, meaning there is no upfront cost for working with us and you won’t owe us anything unless we help you obtain compensation.