Classes resume at Houston area district while chemical fire continues to burn

March 19, 2019
The fire closed Deer Park district schools on Monday, but school leaders decided it was safe to resume classes Tuesday.

Classes have resumed in the Deer Park (Texas) school district even though an intense chemical fire continues to burn and produce plumes of black smoke that drifted across the area east of Houston.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the fire forced Deer Park schools to close Monday, but they reopened Tuesday 

The fire broke out Sunday in storage tanks that hold gasoline and other chemicals at the International Terminals Company in Deer Park. No injuries have been reported.

Deer Park School Superintendent Victor White announced Monday night that campuses would reopen Tuesday based on several criteria: the city had lifted a shelter-in-place order imposed on Sunday; air-quality reports had been favorable for more than 24 hours; wind forecasts showed the smoke plume moving west of Deer Park; and the fire, while still burning, had not spread.

The district is restricting outside activities while the fire continues to burn, White added.

"We remain in close contact with city officials, and we appreciate their continued expert advice during this situation," White said in a message to parents. "If conditions change regarding air quality or site activity, we will be notified immediately."

Despite the decision to reopen schools, several Deer Park parents say they will not send their children to school while the fire continues to burn, KTRK-TV reports.

"Kids at San Jacinto Elementary will be able to see the fire out of their school window.," one parent wrote on social media. "You're putting our kids at risk for what reason? My kids will not be in school until the fire is out." 

Another parent wrote: "My kid will not be in class until the fire is out. My son's school is a couple of miles away. I will not gamble with his life." 

The fire is expected to burn another day or two.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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