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Tank with carcinogenic chemical goes up in flames in Texas, residents urged to shut vents

A petrochemical storage facility has caught fire in Deer Park, Texas, sending thick plumes of potentially hazardous smoke into the air. Locals have been urged to seek shelter inside as firefighters struggle to contain the blaze.

The inferno has been ravaging one of the tanks of the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC), based in Deer Park, a city of some 32,000 in southeast Texas. Videos and photos shared on social media show a thick pillar of black smoke billowing from the facility into the air.

The ITC said that the fire broke out at 10:22am local time, engulfing the tank that contains Naphtha, a highly flammable chemical which is a component of gasoline. The chemical is described as extremely volatile and is classified as carcinogenic.

In the meantime, locals have been warned against going outside while the country officials, including those from the county HAZMAT division, assess if the air has been contaminated.

As the fire was sweeping through the facility on Sunday afternoon, the city authorities issued a “shelter in place” order for the whole of Deer Park, calling on residents to “seek shelter immediately.”

The order means that the residents are encouraged to stay in place out of fear of potentially dangerous substances being released into the atmosphere, and are advised to shut down windows, air ventilation and air conditioning systems, as well as turn off fans and clothes dryers as a precaution.

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