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Firefighters proceed to battle massive blaze at Passaic chemical plant


Firefighters continued to battle a big blaze Saturday morning at a chemical plant in Passaic, New Jersey, greater than 14 hours after it erupted, sending towering flames into the sky and clouds of smoke wafting via the area.

By 11 a.m., the hearth had been downgraded to a four-alarm response from an 11-alarm response, however bitter low temperatures created different issues as firefighters contended with frozen hydrants and unsafe situations.

Metropolis officers mentioned that the worst end result had been averted up to now: The hearth didn’t attain the portion of the plant that homes massive quantities of chemical merchandise, and there have been no main accidents.

Residents had been urged to maintain their home windows shut, however the metropolis’s mayor mentioned Saturday morning that the scenario didn’t require them to evacuate the world.

“It’s one of many worst fires I’ve skilled as mayor due to the potential,” Mayor Hector Lora mentioned in a cellphone interview round 10:30 a.m. “It had the potential to be the worst in our metropolis. We might be trying simply at evacuating a whole lot and a whole lot of individuals had it reached the chemical part.”

The blaze erupted simply after 8:30 p.m. Friday on the Majestic Industries warehouse, which homes Qualco, an organization that manufactures chlorine pellets for swimming swimming pools. The ability can retailer greater than 100,000 kilos of the product.

The web site for Qualco seemed to be down Saturday morning, and a consultant couldn’t instantly be reached.

The constructing was largely empty on the time of the hearth, with just one safety guard current, officers mentioned. Greater than 200 firefighters from across the area had been despatched to Passaic, a metropolis of about 70,000 residents that’s roughly 10 miles from Manhattan.

The reason for the hearth remained unknown. Officers mentioned inspectors wouldn’t be capable of start making a dedication till the scenario was below management.

Lora mentioned some related fires at crops within the space had been brought on by an elevated use of heaters and tools within the chilly climate months however emphasised that it was not clear if that was the case Friday.

The mayor and state environmental officers mentioned that poisonous fumes weren’t being emitted and that air high quality readings within the space remained inside state and federal limits.

“We’re going to maneuver ahead with extra everlasting setups to verify the air high quality within the space is frequently below the requirements,” mentioned Ken Pincus, the town’s well being officer.

Nonetheless, climate situations supplied new challenges for firefighters Saturday morning.

The path of the wind Friday evening despatched smoke and flames instantly up into the air, Lora mentioned, and was additionally serving to to maintain the blaze alive Saturday.

“The winds final evening, I might say, had been our greatest buddy,” Lora mentioned. “This morning it might develop into our worst enemy because it continues to feed the hearth.”

A piece of the greater than 200,000-square-foot constructing collapsed, and fireplace officers mentioned they had been involved about structural points in different areas.

It was unclear how shut the blaze had been to affecting the most important provide of chemical substances. Just one firefighter reported a minor damage to his eye, officers mentioned, and no residents had been injured.

About 900 households stay in a housing complicated close to the plant, Lora mentioned, and would have wanted to go away if situations had worsened.

“The place would we put them? The place do you are taking them when the air high quality is a priority each space that you simply flip?” Lora mentioned. “The constructing will be changed, however human life can’t be. That everybody’s secure is what I’m most grateful for proper now.”

The blaze despatched billows of smoke via the area Friday evening, and New York Metropolis officers mentioned residents there would possibly see or odor smoke.

Video posted on social media reveals a big ball of fireplace erupting alongside the facet of a freeway as thick clouds of smoke roar into the sky. The flames drew crowds of onlookers, a few of whom reported listening to explosions and seeing sparks.

Lora mentioned he had spoken to Gov. Phil Murphy, who dispatched state environmental and emergency administration officers to the scene.

Murphy mentioned on Twitter on Friday that he was urging “everybody in Passaic to remain secure.”

“Praying for the protection of our first responders on the scene,” he wrote.

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