Port of Houston fire chief says reports about fire boat breakdown during ITC fire is incorrect

ITCablaze

Reports that breakdowns aboard two Port of Houston fire boats contributed to the intensification of the 64-hour Intercontinental Terminals fire in March are incorrect, said Port of Houston Fire Chief William Buck.

“There was a temporary reduction in water pressure at the scene,” Buck said. “However, the pumps aboard our fire boats were in continuous operation during that period.”

Press releases issued by ITC pinpoint the initial blaze as occurring at 10:22 a.m. March 17. During the next 2½ days, flames spread through petrochemical products in and around 15 storage tanks contained within a common dike.

In its coverage of the fire, Industrial Fire World magazine cited press releases issued by ITC on March 19 that blamed the fire’s intensification on “a temporary loss of water pressure and water resources between the hours of 4:00PM and 10:00PM” on March 18.

“The loss of water pressure was due to the malfunction of two fireboat pumps that were providing water to firefighters operating on the scene,” one press release states.

That breakdown was not aboard the fire boats but somewhere in the 5,000 feet of hose line maintained by Channel Industries Mutual Aid stretching from the boats to the fire, Buck said.

“CIMA never lost water from the boats,” he said.

ITC acknowledged the mistake during a subsequent press conference, Buck said. However, a review of press releases on the ITC website Wednesday found the incorrect information still posted.

As of Friday afternoon, ITC had not responded to a telephone inquiry from IFW.

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