Tanker Fire, Bunker Spill Closes Houston Ship Channel

MT Aframax River. File Photo: MaritimeTraffic/
MT Aframax River. File Photo: MaritimeTraffic/Rosie Green

A tanker fire caused by a bunker fuel leak closed a 1 mile section of the Houston Ship Channel overnight as crews worked to contain the spill and extinguish the fire. 

The Coast Guard closed the Houston Ship Channel to all traffic for 1 mile stretch southwest of the Battleship Texas State Historic site, between the Cargill facility and the Cemex dock.

A pilot aboard the 810-foot crude oil tanker Aframax River notified Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston watchstanders around midnight that the tanker was on fire near the Intercontinental Terminals Company. It was reported that a bunker tank was punctured and caught fire. The tanker was not carrying any product when the incident occurred.

Some video from the Harris County Sheriff’s Department shows flames and thick black smoke billowing from area of the tanker.

Coast Guard Station Houston and Station Galveston boat crews, two Port of Houston Authority fire boats and Harris County Sheriff’s Office marine division responded to the incident. 

The Houston Ship Channel was closed at 12:08 a.m., and the Coast Guard established a safety zone from the Cargil facility to the Cemex docks.

The fire has been extinguished and all tanker crew members are accounted for with no injuries reported.

A port of Houston fire boat and Coast Guard investigators have remained on scene.