Blaze near New Jersey chemical plant ‘far from’ under control: Fire chief

A fire near a chemical plant in New Jersey with flames and smoke visible for miles in the night sky spread to multiple buildings in the complex on Friday, threatening to reach the plant’s chemical storage area, authorities said.

Passaic mayor, Hector Laura, told residents in a video posted on Facebook to stay away from the area and keep their windows closed.

Laura said firefighters are still assessing the situation. He said there were no initial reports of loss of life.

The building was vacant when the fire broke out, Pasik fire chief Patrick Trentakost said.

“Part of the building has chlorine in it and it appears to be under control at this time,” he said shortly after midnight. “We’ll be monitoring that all night as well but we’re definitely far from getting the fire under control.”

The fire chief also said that a large part of the building where the fire originated had collapsed within itself. Water from the nearby river was used to supplement the firefighters’ supplies.

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Trentakost said one firefighter was taken to hospital after hitting debris in the face, but he was otherwise healthy. Several other firefighters had slipped and fallen while fighting the flames as the water used to put out the flames had turned to ice.

New York City’s Emergency Department sent out a notification Friday night saying residents may see or smell smoke from the fire.
Qualco Inc.’s factory is located in About 21 kilometers west of Manhattan. It produces chemicals that are used to treat swimming pools and spas, according to its website.

It was not clear how the fire started.

Laura said the Environmental Protection Department was on site to assess air quality.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy tweeted about the fire, echoing calls for people who live near it to keep their windows closed.
“We urge everyone in Passaic to remain safe as firefighters battle a major fire with eight alarms at a chemical plant off Route 21,” Murphy wrote. “We pray for the safety of our first responders at the scene.”

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