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Republican congressman Ted Poe — whose district includes northern parts of Houston — told CNBC on Thursday that explosions and fires are expected to continue for days at the flooded-out Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas.
"The company says it could be as long as six days," Poe said in a "Squawk Box" phone interview, while describing the chain of events that led to the volatile situation. "Six foot of water got into the plant. It took out the power system. Both backup power systems went out. Those are used to keep the chemicals cool. The refrigeration unit wasn't working. So the chemicals get hot. They burn and they explode."
Arkema, which is based in France, was urging people to stay away as the fires burn themselves out.
Poe said that the plant has been evacuated and so has about "two miles in diameter" from the facility.
At an early morning news conference, officials in Harris County — where the plant is located — downplayed the severity of the situation, saying nearly Thursday containers under pressure that need to be kept cool popped and started small fires.