A massive 11-alarm fire has erupted at a New Jersey chemical plant

·2 min read
A thick plume of smoke rises over a burning building which is seen through the windshield of a vehicle, in Passaic, New Jersey, U.S., January 14, 2022 in this screen grab obtained from a video on social media.
A thick plume of smoke rises over a burning building which is seen through the windshield of a vehicle, in Passaic, New Jersey, U.S., January 14, 2022 in this screen grab obtained from a video on social media.Maria Alberto/via REUTERS
  • A massive fire broke out in Passaic, New Jersey, roughly twelve miles west of New York City.

  • Passaic Mayor Hector Lora asked residents to stay away from the area near the Qualco chemical plant.

  • Lora is also advising residents nearby to close their windows because of the smoke.

A massive fire broke out in a chemical plant in Passaic, New Jersey, on Friday night.

In a Facebook Live post, Passaic Mayor Hector Lora asked residents to stay away from the area near the Qualco chemical plant on 225 Passaic Street, by Route 21 and the Passaic River.

The location of the fire is roughly 12 miles west of Manhattan Island.

Passaic Fire Chief Patrick Trentacost said most of the building where the fire originated, which was used to store plastic and pallets, had collapsed. As of 11:00 p.m., Lora said the fire spread to other buildings, including one that stored chlorine pellets.

He said the fire is not yet under control "but they are making progress," adding that the goal was to keep the fire away from the main building that houses the bulk of the chemicals.

"If the fire were to hit the main chemical plant, it would obviously create issues beyond what our immediate resources would be able to resolve," Lora said.

He said if the fire does reach the main plant, there would be large evacuations in the area.

The mayor also said nearby residents should close their windows because of the amount of smoke.

"Because this is a chemical fire, we are extremely concerned for the health and safety of those in the area," Lora said.

He said firefighters are helping evacuate nearby residents to a safe distance away from the fire. Buses and cars are being diverted away from the area and some roads have been closed.

Lora said one firefighter had been taken to a hospital because of an injury but no additional information on their condition was available.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy urged people to stay safe as firefighters fight the fire. "If you live nearby, keep your windows closed. Praying for the safety of our first responders on the scene," Murphy said in a tweet.

CBS New York reported that the smoke could be seen and smelled miles away, adding that residents in New York City were being warned that they could see or smell it.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

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