enormous fire breaks out at New Jersey chemical factory

A 11-alarm fire broke out Friday night at a chemical factory in Passaic, New Jersey, officials said. The three-story building was set ablaze at approximately 8:30 p.m. after two nearby buildings caught fire, CBS New York reported. 

A fire official interviewed by Passaic Mayor Hector Carlos Lora, who is live-streaming from the scene of the blaze, said approximately 200 firefighters from 11 companies have responded to the scene. Passaic Fire Chief Patrick Trentacost Sr. said the fire has not in addition reached the main part of the chlorine plant, but noted that the fire is “definitely not under control.” 

Lora said major evacuations would likely be necessary if the fire reached the main part of the plant, and said officials are “regularly monitoring” the fire’s location. He commended the “heroic” response from fire officials who have so far prevented the fire from reaching the main area of the plant.

Trentacost said there was “heavy, heavy smoke” and flames in the roof and upper floors of the building. It’s not in addition clear what caused the fire. 

One firefighter has been hospitalized with an unspecified injury, but no additional injuries have been reported, Lora said. 

Lora warned nearby residents to keep their windows closed and avoid the area on Facebook Live, calling it an “extremely serious” fire. The New York City emergency management system warned residents that they might see or smell smoke from the fire.  

One resident told CBS New York that she fled the area to avoid any possible fumes. “We don’t know if the fumes are going to come over and if it’s going to have any long-term side effects for, like, lungs or anything. So it’s really scary,” she said.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy also urged the community to “stay safe” while first responders battled the blaze. “If you live nearby, keep your windows closed,” he said. “Praying for the safety of our first responders on the scene.” 

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