US chemical plant fire is extinguished, company says


Chicago (AFP)

Firefighters on Wednesday extinguished a raging chemical plant fire that had burned since Sunday near the US city of Houston, creating a plume of black smoke that panicked residents.

The Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) said the blaze at its plant on the outskirts of the Texas city was extinguished at around 3:00 am (0800 GMT).

The burning storage tanks filled with chemicals used in gasoline mixtures and paint thinners left many residents worried about exposure to the fumes.

"All tank fires have been extinguished," ITC said in a statement.

"Crews continue to spray foam and water on the tanks to facilitate cooling and prevent reigniting of the remaining material."

The company said there were no serious injuries from the fire and testing showed air quality below hazardous levels.

The chemicals burning at the plant had the potential to cause coughing, difficulty breathing, irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, headaches, nausea or dizziness, according to public health officials.

Classes were canceled in many nearby schools on Wednesday before news of the extinguished flames.

Government officials said they heard from many concerned residents, but repeatedly assured them that they were not in danger.