Air quality 'is good' as crews monitor fire at northwest Houston recycling center, officials say

Lileana Pearson Image
Saturday, August 12, 2023
Fire at NW Houston recycling facility under control, officials say
A widespread fire is contained at Waste Management Recycling Center along Clay Road in northwest Houston, firefighters said.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A fire, which is now contained, at a recycling facility in northwest Houston is still being monitored more than 14 hours after crews first responded.

On Friday, the Houston Fire Department said it received a call of a trash fire before 5 p.m. in the 9500 block of Clay Road, near Campbell, which is the site of a recycling center belonging to Waste Management.

As of Saturday morning, the entire block of Clay Road between Campbell and Blalock remains shut down. Fire officials said people might still see flames while crews move around debris, making sure the fire doesn't reignite.

An Eyewitness News crew noted a chemical-like odor in the air, but authorities assure that the air quality is OK and there is no need for a shelter-in-place.

"For the community - no concerns. Air quality is good. Water runoff is good. No need to shelter in place. The community is safe. Overhaul may take a few more hours - it is a huge building," Captain Sedrick Robinett said. "We want to make sure it doesn't ignite again."

SkyEye flew to the scene on Friday, where multiple bundled stacks were engulfed in flames. The aircraft also captured flames taking over parked 18-wheelers in the process.

Authorities told Eyewitness News that the materials in the warehouse caused the fire to spread extremely fast, making it hard for crews to get ahead of the burning.

According to HFD, one civilian was assessed at the scene for smoke inhalation, but no firefighter injuries were reported.

Robinette said more than 100 firefighters were working the scene, facing the heat as an added challenge.

The ABC13 AccuWeather team noted crews were working in the midst of an excessive heat warning covering the Houston area.

Houston's temperature was reported at 99 degrees by 6:30 p.m. on Friday, with the feels-like temperature at 111 degrees. And what's more, a south wind of 16 mph was measured.

A hazmat team was also called to the scene. Late Friday, firefighters said plastic and cardboard were kept at the facility.

"(The heat) is one of the reasons why the fire did go to a 311. (It) required more personnel to relieve the guys fighting the fire to come out, go to rehab, and recoup while other crews go in. So we had a lot of personnel on scene," Robinett said.

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SEE ORIGINAL REPORT: Recycling center fire response upgraded to 3 alarms in NW Houston, fire department says

The smell of toxic materials in the air remained hours after a widespread fire at a recycling center in northwest Houston.