A major fire at a chemical plant in Passaic, NJ, sent towering flames into the sky Friday night and clouds of smoke billowed through the region, although no major injuries were reported, the city’s mayor said.
The mayor, Hector C. Lora, said he urged residents to stay away from the area so that firefighters from across the region can fight the fire with 10 alarms at the factory, where a company, Qualco, that produces chlorine for produces swimming pools. . Mr Lora said he also asked residents to close their windows to keep the smoke out.
In a short telephone interview, Mr. Lora that about 100,000 pounds of chlorine in the factory had been “affected” by the fire, the heat from the flames or the water from the fire hoses.
As a result, he said, a Reverse 911 call went out to residents of the city and Bergen province, advising them to keep their windows closed. However, he said the part of the factory where most of the chlorine was stored had not been affected.
“We are not in a place where we believe the danger or threat would warrant evacuations,” said Mr Lora, adding that if there were toxic fumes, the firefighters “would have been taken off the site.”
Patrick Trentacost Sr., Passaic’s fire chief, said about 11 p.m. Friday that the burned chlorine “was nothing to worry about at this point.”
“But we’re constantly monitoring it,” he said. “We have companies in the chemical plant and we’re keeping a very close eye on where this fire is going.”
Mr Lora estimated that more than 200 firefighters from the region had responded to the blaze, which started just after 8.30pm. He said a firefighter suffered a minor eye injury.
“I am very concerned for the firefighters because of the proximity and potential of the fire reaching the main factory,” said Mr. Lora. He said the fire was not yet under control.
Mr. Lora said he spoke to Governor Philip D. Murphy, who dispatched environmental and disaster management officials to the scene.
“We cannot fully inspect until the fire is fully extinguished,” wrote Mr. Lora on Facebook. “It may take some time to determine the cause. The main problem with chlorine fires is wind.”
Murphy said on Twitter that he urged everyone in Passaic to stay safe, and asked those who were by the fire to keep their windows closed.
“Pray for the safety of our first responders on the scene,” wrote Mr. Murphy.
Video posted on social media showed a big ball of flame that erupts along the side of a highway as thick clouds of smoke billowed into the sky. The flames drew crowds of onlookers, some of whom reported hearing explosions and seeing sparks.
New York City officials said: that residents there could see or smell smoke from the fire in Passaic, a city of about 70,000 people, about 10 miles from Manhattan.