Authorities said on Saturday morning they contained a massive 11-alarm fire at a Passaic chemical warehouse, which began Friday night with smoke so heavy that it was detected on weather radar and could be seen and smelled in New York City.
The inferno broke out around 8:15 p.m. Friday on Passaic Street and spread to multiple buildings at Majestic Industries and the Qualco chemical plant, which officials feared might collapse.
The fire at Majestic Industries and the Qualco chemical plant in Passaic was in buildings housing plastics, pallets and chlorine, officials said, but catastrophe was averted. No serious injuries were reported, and no evacuation orders were issued.
Firefighters remain on the scene of the blaze and Mayor Hector C. Lora is asking Passaic residents to keep their windows shut as a precaution although state Department of Environmental Protection officials say the air is safe to breathe.
Frigid weather froze water from hydrants and hoses, hampering boats trying to draw water from the Passaic River and causing firefighters to slip and fall, Lora said. One firefighter went to the hospital with an eye injury, according to the mayor.
The chlorine plant started burning, raising fears about possible mandatory evacuations but air quality remained acceptable although officials continue to monitor that situation.
Security guard Justin Johnson was working alone when he noticed smoke coming from a tower, so he called the fire department as alarms went off.
“I look out the window, I see smoke coming from, maybe, like, the stack tower right there. I don’t know if that caused the fire or not, but I also see smoke coming from there, so I decided to come back to security office, called the fire department and get them down here. The alarm system went off already,” Johnson said. “It was a blessing I got out of there. I treat that building like it’s my own. I work there, it grows onto you. It hurts a little bit.”
The fire was in buildings housing plastics, pallets and chlorine, officials said, but Fire Chief Patrick Trentacost
One firefighter was taken to a hospital after being struck by debris, officials said. He was doing well, though other firefighters slipped and fell in the slick conditions, officials said.
Officials were concerned about possible air quality issues, however, firefighters’ quick work kept the flames from reaching the area where more than 100,000 pounds of chlorine pellets are stored.