Authorities started a controlled burn Sunday at a hurricane-damaged chemical plant outside Houston to prevent further explosions.
Officials announced the “proactive measures” to neutralize highly unstable compounds by igniting six remaining trailers containing chemicals at the Arkema plant in Crosby. By late Sunday, authorities said all fires at the plant were out.
They said setting the fire wasn’t a risk to the area. People living within a mile and a half of the site have been evacuated.
Video broadcast Sunday showed small flames and some light gray smoke at charred structures at the plant.
Sam Mannan, a chemical safety expert at Texas A&M University, said the gray smoke indicated a more complete burn, with fewer harmful chemicals remaining.
Throughout southeast Texas, churchgoers took a break from cleanup efforts to worship on a declared National Day of Prayer, with many attending services in makeshift sanctuaries after their places of worship were damaged.
In the town of Vidor, Pat Lawrence and her fiancé, Jim Frasier, hopped on a tractor, the only way they could make it to services at the Pine Forest Baptist Church.
“You can’t hardly comprehend all the water that’s around,” Lawrence said. “My house is not flooded but getting out is flooded. I’ve been in my house since last Saturday, not left the place until today.”
President Donald Trump returned to Washington, D.C., on Sunday after traveling to Houston and Lake Charles, La., for his second visit to communities devastated by Harvey.
The White House has asked Congress to approve $7.9 billion for initial relief efforts when lawmakers return to work Tuesday.
U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz plan to visit evacuees at the NRG Center in Houston on Monday with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the Houston congressional delegation. They plan to address relief efforts at a 2 p.m. news conference.