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Elevated air quality readings detected at Spring Branch mulch fire, Houston Health Department says

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Friday, November 3, 2023 3:13AM

Elevated air quality readings detected at Spring Branch mulch fire

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — A burning mulch fire still glowed Thursday night, nearly a week after it ignited at a three-acre Spring Branch construction site.

Amid the ongoing fire, Houston Health Department officials confirmed for the first time what neighbors were worried about. Air quality readings were at an elevated level.

Officials used a town hall Thursday evening to address concerns over the ongoing incident off Hollister and Hammerly. Dozens of residents were in attendance.

While the health department mentioned the “high” readings, officials did not specify what exactly that meant.

The health department said no alerts were issued because even though there were some elevated air quality readings, the average of all the readings was below federal standards.

Still, neighbors told Eyewitness News that the smell is awful inside and outside their homes.

“You’re getting a tickle in your throat, lots of coughing,” neighbor Rafat Wahid said. “And it’s normally during sleep time. (I’ve) been coughing most of the night.”

As for the extinguishing efforts, the Houston Fire Department said a private crew is using water, not chemicals, to put it out.

Chief Samuel Pena added that it’s tough to extinguish because of stumps and other vegetation that need to be broken up.

The process will take several more days.

According to Pena, a home builder had been working on the land, but the chief did not say what caused the fire. He said no burning permits were issued.

The Houston Police Department’s Environmental Crimes Division is investigating but had no comment Thursday night.

SEE PREVIOUS STORY: 3-acre mulch fire causing concern for Spring Branch residents

Mulch fire in Spring Branch expected to burn until Thursday, with no cause known, officials sayA mulch fire at a construction site has been burning since Friday, which has caused concerns for several residents in the Spring Branch area.

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