A massive chemical fire raged through a warehouse this morning in Spring Branch, leading the Houston Fire Department to issue a shelter-in-place order for the surrounding neighborhood and evacuate an elementary school "due to the release of hazardous materials," according to an HFD press release.
The fire is now under control, but earlier this morning we snapped some disturbing photos showing what appears to be a large amount of some sort of red liquid inundating a drainage ditch behind the warehouse. We asked an HFD spokesperson what it was, but the spokesman said he couldn't talk about that because it was part of an "investigation."
Apparently, HFD does not yet know what chemicals were inside the charred structure on the 1700 block of Laverne Street. According to an HFD press release, the warehouse is "a custom packing and filling company."
"Haz Mat has not made contact with anyone who works or owns this company," HFD's Jay Evans told the Houston Chronicle. "All we have is the name of the place. We have no idea what's in the building."
The HFD spokesman said nobody was hurt in the fire.
[Update]: 3:43 p.m.
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HFD has issued an alert urging people to avoid "water run-off" near the warehouse. So, as tempting as it might be to get a closer look at the still-unidentified colorful liquid, you're probably better off staying away. From HFD:
The Houston Fire Department has declared the incident under control. Although the fire threat is over, the HFD would like to advise all citizens to avoid water run-off [emphasis in original] to nearby areas. The area of Spring Branch Creek and surrounding ditches and culverts should be avoided until authorities complete testing and deem them safe. Diking and boom operations are currently underway along with environmental contractors on sight performing environmental cleanup. Although, recent rainfall and flooding is assisting with dilution, citizens should avoid those water run-off areas until further notice.