Fire at New Jersey’s chemical plant spreads thick smoke

This image from video provided by Mikey B shows a fire near a chemical plant in New Jersey, Friday, January 14, 2022 in Passaic, NJ A fire in a chemical plant in New Jersey with flames and smoke visible for miles in the night sky Friday has spread to multiple buildings, threatening to reach the plant's chemical storage area, authorities said. (Mikey B via AP)

This image from video provided by Mikey B shows a fire near a chemical plant in New Jersey, Friday, January 14, 2022 in Passaic, NJ A fire in a chemical plant in New Jersey with flames and smoke visible for miles in the night sky Friday has spread to multiple buildings, threatening to reach the plant’s chemical storage area, authorities said. (Mikey B via AP)

AP

A large chemical fire burned through the night and on Saturday morning in northern New Jersey, its smoke so heavy that it was detected on weather radar and seen and smelled in neighboring New York City.

The fire at Majestic Industries and Qualco’s chemical plant in Passaic spread to several buildings and threatened to collapse, officials said.

Water from fire hoses froze in cold weather and made the environment slippery and dangerous for respondents.

“There have been bad fires, but this is the worst I’ve ever seen,” Passaic Mayor Hector Lora told NorthJersey.com.

Security guard Justin Johnson told WCBS-TV that he was working alone, checking water pressure when he saw smoke coming from a smoke-stack-like tower. He was not sure what to make of it, but called the fire department because alarms went off.

The fire was in buildings housing plastic, pallets and chlorine, officials said, but firefighter Patrick Trentacost said the part where most of the chlorine was stored was under control.

Residents near the fire were advised to close their windows but were not required to evacuate, with officials saying air quality remained acceptable and would be monitored continuously.

Some residents escaped anyway.

“It’s worrying. You do not know what will happen,” Joel Heredia told WBCS-TV.

One firefighter was taken to a hospital after being hit by punctures, officials said. It did well with him, although other firefighters slipped and fell in the slippery conditions, officials said.

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