The Latest: Official: Probe of fire at facility to take time

In a Wednesday, March 20, 2019 photo, runoff from the now-extinguished petrochemical tank fire at Intercontinental Terminals Company is blocked by an oil skimming buoy, in Deer Park, Texas. Fire crews extinguished the blaze at ITC about 3 a.m., Wednesday, almost four days after it started, which caused a plume of black smoke to linger over the Houston area. ITC officials said the cause of the fire is still unknown. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)
FILE - In a Wednesday, March 20, 2019 file photo, emergency crews continue to douse what's left of the now-extinguished petrochemical tank fire at Intercontinental Terminals Company, in Deer Park. Fire crews extinguished the blaze at ITC about 3 a.m., Wednesday, almost four days after it started, which caused a plume of black smoke to linger over the Houston area. ITC officials said the cause of the fire is still unknown. EPA on-site coordinator Adam Adams said they have been in Deer Park since Sunday, conducting air monitoring at ground level and in the plume. Biggest concerns are "volatile organic chemicals" and particulates, Adams said. He added that no hazardous levels have been detected. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP, File)
Sarai Aranda hugs her son, who was part of the cleanup crew to empty out the remaining chemicals in the open tanks, as the Intercontinental Terminals Company petrochemical fire reignited, Friday, March 22, 2019, in Deer Park, Texas. The efforts to clean up a Texas industrial plant that burned for several days this week were hamstrung Friday by a briefly reignited fire and a breach that led to chemicals spilling into the nearby Houston Ship Channel. (Godofredo A. Vasquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Jessica Leija holds up her hand to ask a question as Bill Ogden, a lawyer with Farrar & Ball, talks to a crowd of Deer Park residents Saturday, March 23, 2019, outside where he and Chance McMillan, founding partner of the McMillan Law Firm, were suppose to host a town hall-style meeting about the legal ramifications stemming from the recent ITC fire, in Deer Park, Texas. The crowd was to large to accommodate inside. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Firefighters arrive at the site where the Intercontinental Terminals Company petrochemical fire reignited, Friday, March 22, 2019, in Deer Park, Texas. The efforts to clean up a Texas industrial plant that burned for several days this week were hamstrung Friday by a briefly reignited fire and a breach that led to chemicals spilling into the nearby Houston Ship Channel. (Godofredo A. Vasquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Intercontinental Terminals Company incident commander Brent Weber answers a question about efforts to contain and clean out the chemicals that remained in burned out tanks Saturday, March 23, 2019, in Pasadena, Texas. The efforts to clean up the Texas industrial plant that burned for several days this week were hamstrung Friday by a briefly reignited fire and a breach that led to chemicals spilling into the nearby Houston Ship Channel. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

HOUSTON — The Latest on fire damage at a petrochemical storage facility that led to a partial closure of the Houston Ship Channel (all times local):

5:10 p.m.

Officials say they continue investigating the cause of a fire at a Houston-area petrochemical storage facility but have still not been able to visit the site of the blaze due to ongoing clean up efforts.

Harris County Fire Marshal Laurie Christensen said Monday afternoon officials have delivered a subpoena to Intercontinental Terminals Company, the firm that owns the facility, to preserve any evidence regarding the cause of the blaze.

Christensen says the subpoena is standard practice in such a probe and ITC officials have been cooperative in the investigation.

Christensen could not say how long the investigation of the fire at ITC's facility in Deer Park would take, adding that "it will take time."

County officials said Monday the incident continues to be overall a low health risk to the community.

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11:30 a.m.

A U.S. Coast Guard official says it could be several more days before a section of the Houston Ship Channel closed amid cleanup efforts after a fire at a petrochemical storage facility is reopened.

Coast Guard Capt. Kevin Oditt said Monday that officials let one ship pass through the affected area Sunday. Oditt said that ship didn't interfere with the cleanup and didn't get contaminated.

Oditt says additional test runs with four more ships and barges were set to be done on Monday. Crews are cleaning up after products from storage tanks at the facility leaked into the ship channel following the March 17 fire. The tanks contained components of gasoline and materials used in nail polish remover, glues and paint thinner.

Intercontinental Terminals Company says it continues emptying the damaged tanks.

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9:30 a.m.

Students are returning to school in an area southeast of Houston after a fire at a petrochemical storage facility prompted several days of canceled classes.

Students were back in class Monday in Deer Park, Galena Park and other communities near the International Terminals Company in Deer Park. Classes were canceled because of concerns over air quality near the facility, which caught fire on March 17 and burned for several days.

The fire destroyed or damaged storage tanks that contained components of gasoline and materials used in nail polish remover, glues and paint thinner. Elevated levels of benzene were detected in the air Thursday, prompting officials to order people to remain indoors.

The fire also led to the closure of part of the Houston Ship Channel. The U.S. Coast Guard says it hopes to have the channel reopened Monday.

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