Firefighting foam: Here's how the solution helps extinguish fires

DEER PARK, Texas (KTRK) -- ITC's response to the fire at its Deer Park tank farm is centered around as much firefighting foam as the company can find.

One supplier told ABC13 Thursday afternoon every available gallon for 800 miles around Houston is destined for Deer Park.

RELATED: Benzene leak limited to one tank at ITC facility

It is a common solution to fires like this one, and works to keep vapors below the surface of the foam 'blanket' and keep oxygen from getting out. Oxygen is needed for fire to burn. By denying oxygen, foam works to extinguish it.

Chemists tell us the foam mimics soap bubbles in your kitchen sink: it degrades when in contact with heat and needs frequent reapplication.

The foam can also blow around in the wind, creating holes in any foam blanket. That was the issue Thursday morning when benzene escaped into the air.

WHAT IS BENZENE? Signs you've been exposed to highly flammable chemical

Once the fire is out, the foam will not completely disappear. Soaked in chemicals, it will need to be vacuumed up and removed to a hazardous materials site.

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