PASSAIC, NJ (AP) — A fire near a New Jersey chemical plant with flames and smoke visible for miles in the night sky spread to several buildings in the complex on Friday, threatening to reach the area the plant’s chemical storage facility, authorities said.
Passaic Mayor Hector Lora told residents in a video posted to Facebook to stay away from the area and keep their windows rolled up.
Lora said firefighters are still assessing the situation. There were no initial reports of loss of life, he said.
Passaic Fire Chief Patrick Trentacost said the building was vacant when the fire broke out.
“Part of the building had chlorine in it and it appears to be under control at the moment,” he said just after midnight. “We’ll be monitoring that as well throughout the night, but we’re certainly far from having control of the fire.”
The fire chief also said much of the building the fire originated from had collapsed on itself. Water from the nearby river was used to supplement the fire department’s supply.
A firefighter was taken to hospital after being hit in the face by debris but was fine, Trentacost said. Many other firefighters had slipped and fallen fighting the flames as the water used to smother the fire turned to ice. The main estimated temperatures were in the teens.
New York City Emergency Management issued a notification late Friday that residents may see or smell smoke from the fire.
The Qualco Inc. plant is about 13 miles west of Manhattan. It produces chemicals used to treat pools and spas, according to its website. It’s next to Majestic Industries, a designer and manufacturer of gaming and hospitality furniture, Lora said.
It is not known how the fire started.
The Environmental Protection Department was on hand to assess air quality, Lora said. At 3:30 a.m., air quality levels were deemed acceptable and evacuations were not needed, he said.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy tweeted about the blaze, echoing calls for people who live nearby to keep their windows rolled up.
“We urge everyone in Passaic to stay safe as firefighters battle a large eight-alarm fire at a chemical plant off Highway 21,” Murphy wrote. “Pray for the safety of our first responders at the scene.”
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