A massive 11-alarm fire Friday at a chemical plant in Passack, New Jersey, caused residents to flee the area as flames lit up the surrounding sky.
At present there is no report of any casualty or casualties in the fire. Several reports state that the building has collapsed, however. newsweek This has not been independently confirmed.
Large-scale fires continued to burn even after the plant’s structural failure, as the fires progressed to other buildings. Smoke spread across the river in New York City, and weather radar showed traces of smoke could be found more than 50 miles across the Atlantic Ocean.
Passaic Mayor Hector Lora urged residents of the area to evacuate as firefighters struggled to contain the fire. According to WABC-TV, the lack of water pressure from the hydrant was making the fight against the fire quite difficult.
“The fire is out, but it’s the worst that has ever happened,” Lora told local reporters.
The mayor said the fire had already spread to several different buildings in the area and was continuing to grow. Residents living in the immediate area of the plant were being instructed to evacuate the area as nearby roads were closed.
While the urge to flee is only a strong suggestion, Lora told reporters that an evacuation could be ordered if the fire started to react with chemicals at the plant.
The plant is owned by Qualco, a Passac-based company that has manufactured swimming pool and Jacuzzi cleaning supplies for over three decades. A common product sold by the company is chlorine, and while the chemical itself is not flammable, it can be explosive under certain conditions.
Video footage of the fire taken from an overpass by Twitter user @Ameer shows the wide spread of the fire.
Less than five minutes later, in another tweet, the fire appears to be spreading rapidly. The person filming can be heard saying that hell is getting “too big” and reported hearing a loud bang.
Continuous updates on Twitter said that the fire had begun to spread to the trees, and appeared to be in the vicinity of a residential building.
Beyond Passack, the nearby city of Wellington, New Jersey, also issued an alert for residents to keep their windows closed and be aware of embers being blown across the river.
Lora said several first responders from “basically everywhere” were dispatched to the area to help fight the fires and evacuate locals. It reportedly involved more than 200 firefighters from several different companies.
He said those who were forced to leave their homes would be able to stay in a temporary shelter which is currently being set up.
“I am asking residents to keep their windows closed as our fire department and our emergency responders are assessing the extent of this fire,” Lora added. “We are asking all residents to stay as far away as possible. This is a chemical fire. You will see the colors in the sky.”
“Since this is a chemical fire, we are extremely concerned for the health and safety of the people in the area.”
It was the third January in four years when a major fire devastated the area, according to bergen record, A large recycling plant was destroyed by flames in 2021, and a ten-alarm fire in 2019 reduced a historic paper mill to ashes.
According to reports, during the fire at the paper mill, at least 30 buildings out of 36 of the property were destroyed.
newsweek Qualcomm has reached out for comment.