The fire began shortly before 2:30pm at Supply Pro in the 1200 block of Hahlo Street near Old Clinton Road. Flames were shooting through the roof, and thick black smoke that filled the sky could be seen for miles.
Firefighters say polypropylene was burning. A shelter-in-place order had been issued for residents in a five-mile radius, but that has since been reduced. The shelter-in-place now reaches from Kelley (north) to Buffalo Bayou (south); and from Jensen (west) to Lathrop (east). Children, elderly and those with respiratory issues should continue to exercise caution, as air quality has been reduced.
"I just saw the smoke, heard a couple bangs, didn't really know what it was. I came over here and it was burning down," said C.J. Batla, who works nearby.
About 45 fire crews battled a warehouse fire on the east side as it burned for hours, on this hot, windy afternoon.
"A bunch of breakers went off and sparks started flying and landed on material. There was so much as to where the material actually caught on fire," said Supply Pro employee Andy Calixto.
The building houses absorbents for liquids, such as oil and gas.
HPD Capt. Ruy Lozano said, "The company was used to make a product used to clean up oil spills. The main product involved is polypropelene."
Polypropelene is a plastic used in everything from packaging and labeling to lab equipment and car parts. It's extremely flammable, and it's possible the fire could produce toxic gases and its fumes may cause dizziness.
Calixto says his co-workers tried to put the fire out with extinguishers and a hose but it spread too fast.
He said, "Everyone got out, everyone was safe. We did a head count and everything was fine. It's just now we're worried about, you know, having a job."
One firefighter has been treated for heat exhaustion, but no other injuries have been reported. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Stay with ABC13 Eyewitness News for the latest on this developing story.