Container on fire at scrap yard forces evacuations

The fire broke out after 11:30am Friday in west Houston.

February 18, 2011 2:08:52 PM PST
The Houston Fire Department will stay on the site of a container fire in west Houston for about the next 24 hours.

The fire department says workers Friday afternoon at a metal yard on Meadowcroft near Stoney Brook cut into a container of titanium pipe and the friction of the blade ignited the metal. Fire crews had people at a nearby post office and nursery evacuate while they ordered an apartment complex to shelter in place. We were told at least 50 people total were removed as a precaution.

The type of fire forced firefighters to just let the fire burn out.

"If you put water on titanium metal that's burning, there will be a very extreme reaction releasing hydrogen gas. And so the key strategy here is to simply let it burn out," said District Chief Steve Cichon of the Houston Fire Department.

The fire department says toxic fumes from the fire were limited to a very small area around the pipes. The department will keep a crew on site to monitor the smoldering metal.