Officials lift shelter in place for A&M in Galveston following fuel tank fire

February 24, 2012 3:14:04 AM PST
Emergency crews stayed on the scene of a three-alarm fuel tank fire in Galveston all night to completely put out the flames.

Firefighters were about to contain the flames at Galveston Bay Biodiesel on Old Port Industrial Road near the Galveston Ship Channel. This, after a fire started in a tank of light crude around 7pm last night.

A total of 35 firefighters from the Texas City, La Marque and Galveston fire departments fought the fire. Firefighters put foam on it to keep it from spreading, but light crude burned for quite some time. They were able to keep it from spreading to nearby tanks.

Crews were able to contain the flames around 10pm, and worked through the night.

The fire flared overnight when some foam blew off. Firefighters had to put down another layer of foam.

"We're trying to relieve our crews because of the intense heat of the fire," said City of Galveston spokeswoman Alicia Cahill. "In the meantime, we've activated our mutual aid agreements with Jamaica Beach and Texas City to protect the rest of Galveston Island."

The fire was far enough away from neighborhoods, but a precautionary shelter in place was issued for the A&M campus in Galveston. About 850 students were forced to stay campus for more than three hours.

"Right now, the wind is blowing toward our bay area and toward the Ship Channel. It's blowing away from Galveston Island and the officials at the university felt that without knowing when the fire would be extinguished, this would be the best thing to do for their students," Cahill said.

The Pelican Island bridge also was also closed for about three hours Thursday night, but it reopened shortly before 10:30pm.

The areas around the site, including access along Harborside between 29th and 51st streets, were restricted but reopened by 11:30pm.

Initially, we received word that two fuel tanks were on fire, but authorities later determined that only one tank was. There's no word yet on how that tanker caught fire.

At least one firefighter was transported for smoke inhalation, but no other injuries have been reported