The sky over Houston has been darkened twice within a 24-hour period by thick clouds of smoke from burning chemical plants — first the ExxonMobile plant in Baytown on April 7 and then the LyondellBasell facility on Allen-Genoa Road on April 8.
No injuries were reported in either Houston plant fire, but fires like these can easily become extremely dangerous for plant workers or for people who live or work in the vicinity and breathe in potentially toxic smoke. Additionally, plants like these can be at risk for hazardous explosions when fires break out, which can result in serious or fatal injuries to employees.
Fire at the Baytown ExxonMobile Complex
The first blaze broke out in the late afternoon on Thursday, April 7, in a lube oil hydrotreating unit, according to Reuters. The company told news outlets that the unit processes diesel fuel. People in downtown Houston — about 22 miles away from the plant — could see the black column of smoke rising from the burning refinery. ExxonMobile had recently increased production at the Baytown refinery after a drop in crude intake in February for planned maintenance.
LyondellBasell Houston Plant Fire Shuts Down Neighborhood
Roads were shut down and several schools were asked to shelter students in place near the LyondellBasell plant in southeast Houston, where a fire broke out around 10 a.m. Friday, April 8. The fire was reported under control within an hour and had been extinguished by noon. The LyondellBasell fire involved burning cleaning fluid and heavy fuel, which sent a plume of black smoke rising from the plant.
No information is currently available through the media regarding the cause of either fire, although the Houston Chronicle reports that investigations are forthcoming.
Dangers of Chemical Plant and Refinery Fires
The Houston area is home to many similar plants and refineries that can present a danger not only to workers, but also to anyone in the vicinity. Earlier this year, a chemical plant explosion in Pasadena killed one person and injured three workers who were performing routine work on a tank that was over-pressurized.
Workers in these situations face the obvious dangers of burns, toxic chemical exposure, and smoke inhalation, but dangers can exist for the public as well. Breathing in smoke from any kind of fire can irritate a person’s eyes, nose, or throat and create difficulty breathing. Smoke inhalation can be deadly under some circumstances. When the smoke involves toxic chemicals, the dangers to the public can increase significantly.
Because of the smoke from the LyondellBasell fire, authorities asked nearby residents to shut their doors and windows and turn off their heating and cooling systems in their homes and businesses. Ultimately, the Houston Fire Department said that the cleaning fluid involved in the fire poses no danger to residents. The department is monitoring air quality near the LyondellBasell plant, according to the Houston Business Journal.
ExxonMobile has publicly said it will monitor air quality in the community near the Baytown plant.
When You Need a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer
If you’re a plant worker who was injured, or someone who lives near a plant who was harmed by breathing in smoke from a plant or refinery fire, you may need help getting your medical bills paid or otherwise obtaining compensation for your injuries. The attorneys at The Krist Law Firm, P.C., have significant experience helping people who suffered accidental injuries in Houston and the surrounding area.
Our lawyers fight to obtain the maximum available compensation in every single case. When you have been injured because of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to receive compensation not only for your medical costs, but also your loss of earning capacity, physical impairment, and other damages.
Call The Krist Law Firm, P.C. at (281) 283-8500, or use our online contact form, to schedule your free consultation today and learn how our Houston personal injury lawyers can help you.