Pollution Damages Caused During Attempt to Extinguish a Fire

In E&L Chipping Co., Inc. v. Hanover Insurance Co., the insured's woodchip pile caught fire. 962 S.W.2d 272, 275 (Tex. App.--Beaumont 1998, no pet.). The plaintiffs, surrounding landowners, alleged that the insured's attempt to extinguish the fire by spraying large quantities of water caused a runoff of contaminated water that polluted their downstream properties. Id. the insurance policy in question defined an occurrence as "'an accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions.'" Id. The pleadings, however, alleged that, while the fire began before the policy period, ongoing damage from exposure to the resulting runoff continued into the policy period. Id. The court found that the policy did not require that the "occurrence" (the accident initially giving rise to the exposure) take place within the policy period. Id. However, because runoff resulted in contamination during the policy period, the court found a duty to defend even though the occurrence (the fire and its extinction) took place before the policy period. Id.