3 Injured in Galena Park Flash Fire at Chemical Plant

Local outlets have reported that there was a chemical plant accident in Galena Park involving a flash fire. Three people were injured and transported to nearby medical centers.

The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office hazmat and investigation team is helping Galena Park first responders ensure the fire and any dangerous chemicals are contained. According to local reports, the fire occurred at the Kinder Morgan Terminal on Clinton Drive, an area used for fuel storage and mixing.

The fire has been contained, and officials are moving ahead with an investigation.

Flash Fires & Flammable Gas

Flash fires are distinct from diffusion fires, which is the kind of flame most people are familiar with. Candles and burning wood, for instance, are diffusion fires.

Flash fires are a type of “premixed fire,” combustion in which oxygen and fuel are mixed before ignition. At a chemical plant, flammable gas can diffuse through the air. If there aren’t air quality monitors in place, the breathable atmosphere could become, in essence, a bomb.

What makes flash fires uniquely dangerous is how quickly they burn. Ignition—which can be something as small as static electricity or a cigarette—causes the flame to burn in every direction, following wherever the gas is concentrated. Wind speed and the concentration of fuel determine how quickly the flame spreads.

Scientifically, the only distinction between a detonation and a flash fire is speed: detonation is when fuel burns faster than the speed of sound. But that’s a scientific distinction; to a survivor, there might be little difference between an explosion and a flash fire. Both can lead to severe burn injuries.

Our firm will seek updates as the situation develops. Our hearts go out to the three survivors—we wish them a full and rapid recovery.

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