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From Black Plume to Benzene Fumes, Houston's Plight Drags On

  • Cancer-causing benzene detected in the air for second morning
  • Texas National Guard deployed to assist with air monitoring
A plume of smoke rises from the fire on March 19.
A plume of smoke rises from the fire on March 19.Photographer: Scott Dalton/Bloomberg
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Now that the four-day fire is out at a Houston-area chemical storage complex, the real danger has emerged.

Cancer-causing benzene was detected in a suburb of the fourth-largest U.S. city for a second morning. School had already been called off for thousands of students but roads and workplaces that were paralyzed for much of Thursday remained open Friday because the toxin appeared to be isolated to a small area. Local authorities refrained from issuing take-cover alerts to residents.