Officials with the city of Garland gave an update Tuesday morning and are continuing the investigation into what caused a massive fire at the Sherwin-Williams paint plant early Monday morning.
In the latest update, officials revealed that during the efforts to contain the fire and manage immediate life safety priorities, foam retardant from Sherwin Williams’ fire suppression system entered the sewers and surrounding creeks.
TCEQ, the EPA, the city and Sherwin Williams are working to remediate the issues caused by the runoff and clean up any remaining foam.
Throughout the day Monday and into Tuesday, the EPA conducted fly-over air monitoring assessments and water testing. Thus far, all test results have shown safe levels for both air and stormwater (runoff water) quality.
"As the morning went on, we had EPA come out, they have their own private mitigation company come out and they went through and found out how far down the flow, or the runoff from this got in the creeks. They dammed up the creeks and then they'll pump it all out and return it back to normal," said James Dugger with the Garland Fire Department. "They know what they're doing. This is, this is not their first rodeo and that's why they're here."
Air and stormwater quality testing will continue throughout the cleanup efforts. City officials said if any hazards are identified, they will immediately notify those in the affected area.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation with Garland Fire remaining onsite overnight into Tuesday. Shiloh Road has been reopened to a single lane of traffic in both directions while mobile command units for the EPA, TCEQ, Garland PD and Garland FD remain on site.
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"Yesterday was a unique incident for our firefighters and everybody responded to the call as we do every day," said Dugger. "It was a new incident, but the guys stood up to the challenge and did a great job of extinguishing the fire and controlling the fire."
MASSIVE FIRE MONDAY MORNING
No evacuations were ordered in Garland after Monday morning’s massive fire and explosions at the Sherwin-Williams paint plant.
“The Garland Fire Department is aware that during the fire a strong chemical odor was observed by people in the area as fire suppression efforts were underway,” fire chief Mark Lee said. “Hazardous Materials team responded and initiated preliminary air quality testing at the site and in nearby neighborhoods. Based on the results of the initial testing. It was determined that an evacuation of the surrounding area was not necessary.”
However, tests for air quality, as well as stormwater runoff, will continue.
"Out of an abundance of caution, the city has requested assistance from Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency. We've also requested the EPA to conduct fly-over air monitoring assessments," Lee said.
It remains unclear what chemicals authorities are concerned about.
“They have a list of about three pages, a single line of the chemicals that go into the paint. And so, at this time, I do not have that information as to which chemicals were burning or which ones were released,” Lee said. "TCEQ has been doing a drive around, monitoring continuously since the time of the fire. The hazmat teams that were here in the overnight hours confirmed that there were no hazards that we needed to deal with."
A total of 16 fire units responded to the calls for explosions just before 1:30 a.m. and extinguished the flames in less than two hours.
“It was outstanding performance by our fire crews that were here,” Lee said.
All employees at the plant were accounted for and only one person reported injuries.
“One employee was being treated at the scene for minor injuries,” Lee said.
In the area, some have expressed concern about health risks due to fumes.
“It's a paint factory. I’m not trying to get poisoned,” Roberto Gavia said. Gavia lives about three minutes away from the plant. The explosions kept him, and his wife awake. “It scared the living hell out of us.”
As of Monday afternoon, a portion of South Shiloh Road remained closed to traffic.
"The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Therefore, the city is requesting the public to please stay out of the immediate area," Lee said.
The road closure has brought business for those in the area to a near standstill.
“Usually when we're busy, we're anywhere from like 10 to 20 customers,” Lalo Hernandez said. Hernandez works at the King Wheel and Tire located on the 1300 block of South Shiloh Road. “Today we’ve had three… It’s almost the end of the day, and we don’t have anything to do besides sit there… They’re not letting anybody through.”
Across from the mechanic shop is the convenience store, A Dash In. The owner told NBC 5 his sales were 70% less than usual.
Authorities were not able to provide an approximate time for when the road will reopen. A representative for Sherwin-Williams has not responded to a request for comment from NBC 5.