Fumes from port fire prompt warning to neighbors - FOX 13 News

Fumes from port fire prompt warning to neighbors

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  • Behind the scenes at the Port of Tampa

    Behind the scenes at the Port of Tampa

    Monday, February 11 2013 10:08 PM EST2013-02-12 03:08:01 GMT
    Cruises are the part of the Port of Tampa many know well. But there is so much more going on dockside. FOX 13 spent four months behind the scenes, learning how the port's many tentacles touch our everyday lives.
    Cruises are the part of the Port of Tampa many know well. But there is so much more going on dockside. FOX 13 spent four months behind the scenes, learning how the port's many tentacles touch our everyday lives.
TAMPA (FOX 13) -

A small fire at the Port of Tampa prompted a "shelter in place" alert for nearby residents this morning.

Complaints about a sulfuric smell near the port were coming in to FOX 13 starting as early as 9 a.m., but port officials initially said they were unaware of any issues. However, the Tampa Police Department issued the following warning at 10:45 a.m.:

"All citizens in the southside of downtown are urged to shelter in place due to chemical fumes coming from the Port of Tampa. Tampa Fire Rescue is working to identify the fumes and contain them. Residents of Channelside and Harbour Island are encouraged to stay indoors. They may experience irritation of the eyes, nose and respiratory track, which can lead to headaches and dizziness. This is a precautionary measure while Tampa Fire Rescue works to resolve this issue."

The view from SkyFOX showed fire trucks at the port, spraying water on a large white chemical tank that was billowing smoke.

Firefighters later said the tank contained sulfur.

"They were doing some routine maintenance inside one of the tanks, and as a result of them doing that, there was a small fire, not sure how that started, it might have been static electricity," Capt. Lonnie Bennefield of Tampa Fire and Rescue said. "Trying to put that fire out, they used steam, and one thing that happens when you put water with sulphur, it turns into sulphur dioxide, and that's how the cloud started."

Sulphur dioxide is a respiratory irritant and can even be fatal in large quantities, which is what prompted the alert.

Just over a half-hour later, though, police said the fire was out and the shelter order had been lifted.

This is the second incident at the port in the last few weeks.  A train derailed early on July 25, spilling ethanol from several cars. The ensuing cleanup took several days.

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Gallery photos property of MyFoxTampaBay.com/Courtesy City of Tampa and Tampa Fire and Rescue.

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