Firefighters battled a large fire Saturday morning at a chemical plant in NJ, Passaic, more than 14 hours after it erupted, sending high flames into the sky and sending clouds of smoke across the area.
At 11 a.m., the fire was downgraded from an 11-alarm response to a four-alarm response, but the bitterly low temperature created other problems as firefighters struggled with frozen hydrants and dangerous conditions.
City officials said the worst case scenario had been avoided: the fire had not reached part of the plant, which contained large amounts of chemicals, and no major injuries.
Residents were forced to close their windows. The mayor of the city said Saturday morning that they did not need to evacuate the area.
Mayor, Hector c. In a telephone interview at 10:30 a.m., Lora said, “It could have been the worst in our city.
The fire broke out just after 8:30 pm on Friday at the Majestic Industries warehouse, which produces chlorine particles for swimming pools at a company called Qualco and can store products worth over ,000 100,000.
Qualco’s website crashed Saturday morning. A representative could not be reached immediately.
The building was mostly empty at the time of the fire, with only one guard, officials said. More than 200 firefighters from around the region were dispatched to Basaik, a city of about 70,000 residents about 10 miles from Manhattan.
The cause of the fire is unknown. Officials said the decision could not be made by inspectors until the situation was brought under control.
He said some similar fires had occurred at factories in the area due to the high use of heaters and equipment during the cold weather months. Lora said, but insisted on Friday that it was not clear if that was the case.
The mayor and state environmental officials said toxic fumes were not being emitted and that air quality measurements in the area were within state and federal limits.
“We are moving forward with more permanent systems to ensure air quality in the area continues to be below standards,” said city health officer Ken Pinkus.
However, weather conditions presented new challenges for firefighters Saturday morning.
On Friday night the direction of the wind sent smoke and flames directly into the air. Lora said, and helped keep the fire alive on Saturday.
“The wind that blew last night, I would say, was our best friend,” Mr. Said Lora. “It could become our worst enemy as it feeds the fire this morning.”
Part of the 200,000-square-foot building collapsed, and fire officials said they were concerned about structural problems in other areas.
It is not clear how close the fire was to affecting the vast distribution of chemicals. Only one firefighter reported minor injuries to his eye, officials said, and none of the residents were injured.
About 900 families live in a housing complex near the plant, and Mr said they would have to move out if the situation worsened. Said Lora.
“Where do we put them? Where do you take them when the air quality is a concern in every area you return to?” Mr. Said Lora. “The building can be changed, but human life cannot be changed. I am so grateful now that everyone is safe.
The fire on Friday night sent smoke billowing across the area, and New York City officials said residents could see or smell the smoke.
Video shows posted on social media a The big fire ball explodes Dense clouds of smoke rumble across the sky on the side of a highway. The flames attracted a crowd of spectators, some of whom said they heard explosions and saw sparks.
Mr. Lora, Governor Philip D., who sent state environmental and emergency management officials to the scene. He said he had spoken to Murphy.
Mr. Murphy Said on Twitter On Friday, he stressed that “everyone in Pasaik should be safe.”
“We pray for the safety of our first responders on the scene,” he wrote.
Mike Ives contributed to the reporting.
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