A large fire at a chemical plant in Passaic, NJ on Friday evening sent towering flames into the sky and clouds of smoke in the area, although no major injuries were immediately reported, a said the mayor of the city.
Mayor Hector C. Lora said he was urging residents to stay clear of the area to allow firefighters from across the region to battle the 10-alarm blaze at the factory, which is home to a business , Qualco, which manufactures chlorine for swimming pools. . Mr Lora said he was also asking residents to close their windows to keep smoke out.
In a brief telephone interview, Mr Lora said around 100,000 pounds of chlorine in the plant had been “impacted” by the fire, the heat from the flames or the water from the fire department hoses.
As a result, he said, a reverse 911 call was sent to residents of the city and county of Bergen, advising them to keep their windows rolled up. He said, however, that the part of the plant where most of the chlorine was stored was not affected.
“We are not at a location where we believe the danger or threat would warrant evacuations,” Lora said, adding that if there had been toxic fumes, firefighters “would have been pulled from the site.”
Patrick Trentacost Sr., the Passaic fire chief, said around 11 p.m. Friday that the chlorine that had burned was “not to be feared at this time.”
“But we are constantly monitoring it,” he said. “We have businesses in the chemical plant and we are monitoring very closely where this fire is headed.”
Mr Lora estimated that more than 200 firefighters in the area responded to the blaze, which started shortly after 8.30pm. He said one firefighter suffered a minor eye injury.
“I am extremely concerned for the firefighters due to the proximity as well as the possibility of the fire reaching the main plant,” Mr Lora said. The fire, he added, was not yet under control.
Mr. Lora said he spoke to Governor Philip D. Murphy, who dispatched environmental and emergency management officials to the scene.
“We will not be able to perform a full inspection until the fire is completely extinguished,” Lora wrote on Facebook. “It may take some time to establish the cause. The main problem with chlorine fire is the wind.
Mr Murphy said on Twitter that he was urging “everyone in Passaic to stay safe”, and he asked those near the fire to keep their windows rolled up.
“Praying for the safety of our first responders at the scene,” Murphy wrote.
A video posted on social media showed a big fireball erupting along a highway as thick clouds of smoke roared into the sky. The flames drew crowds of onlookers, some of whom said they heard explosions and saw sparks.
New York City officials said that residents could see or smell smoke from the fire in Passaic, a city of about 70,000 people, located about 10 miles from Manhattan.