MORE than 200 firefighters are tackling a huge 11-alarm fire which broke out in a New Jersey chemical plant.
Residents have been evacuated and one firefighter has been injured after the massive blaze broke out in Passaic, New Jersey, at around 8.30pm Friday.
The fire initially erupted in a warehouse at 225 Passaic Avenue but spread to a number of buildings nearby, including the Qualco chemical plant.
Mayor Hector Lora said on Facebook Live: “There have been bad fires but this is the worst that I’ve ever seen.”
At least one firefighter was injured and hospitalized after he was hit in the head with falling debris, fire officials said.
Lora urged locals to stay away and nearby residents should close their windows due to the extreme amount of smoke.
“I’m asking residents to keep your windows closed as our fire department and our emergency responders are assessing the extent of this fire,” Lora said. “We are asking all residents to stay as far away as possible. This is a chemical fire. You will see the color in the sky.”
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“There are a lot of firefighters, a lot of police officers that are coming out in order to ensure that individuals are evacuated from the immediate area,” Lora said. “Because this is a chemical fire we are extremely concerned for the health and safety of those in the area.”
Lora said that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection was at the scene conducting air quality tests in the area.
Passaic Fire Chief Patrick Trentacost said the building where the fire started had collapsed in on itself.
“This is by no means under control but we are doing everything we can to contain it," il a dit.
The smoke was so severe that it was being picked up by radar from the National Weather Service as it spread across northern New Jersey.
New York City residents were warned they also might see and smell smoke from the fire.
Firefighters also had to contend with strong gusts of wind and freezing weather conditions, which both hampered the battle against the blaze.
Fire officials said they were utilizing over one million gallons of water per minute to douse the flames, which were quickly freezing over because of the cold weather.
Temperatures at midnight were 20F with winds between 15 to 20mph.
Route 21 South was shut down, according to the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Gov. Phil Murphy also urged residents to stay safe and keep their windows closed.
“We urge everyone in Passaic to stay safe as firefighters battle a large eight-alarm fire at a chemical plant off of Route 21. If you live nearby, keep your windows closed. Praying for the safety of our first responders on the scene.”
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
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