Hundreds of firefighters battled a major blaze at a chemical plant in Passaic late Friday night, sending smoke across the region and forcing residents to close windows.
The fire, which started near Passaic Street and Columbia Avenue, has spread to Qualco, a company that makes pool and spa products, including “chlorine pellets” for pools, according to Passaic Mayor Hector Lora. He said the blaze has not reached a storage area for chemicals, including chlorine.
Lora said shortly before midnight that one firefighter was hurt. There were no serious injuries, he said.
Passaic Fire Chief Patrick Trentacost estimated that 200 firefighters from Bergen, Essex, and Passaic counties responded to the 11-alarm blaze. Workers arrived to find “heavy, heavy smoke” and flames on the Passaic Street facility’s roof and upper floors.
“By no means are we under control but we are doing everything we can to contain it,” Trentacost said shortly before 11 p.m.
“We are monitoring constantly. We are have companies in the chemical factory and we are watching very closely where this fire is going,” the chief said.
A request for assistance from the local water company and fire boats was also made by the firefighters, the chief said. Responding firefighters could be seen at hydrants all over the city, refueling their hydrants with water.
“This is probably one of the worst fires I have seen in such a long time,” said Lora.
Lora, who serves as Passaic’s public safety director, commended firefighters for containing the massive blaze but cautioned that the fire was not yet extinguished.
Residents in the area and as far away as New York City were warned about the dangers of the blaze. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and state officials were helping, according to the mayor.
As the blaze continued to burn around 10:30 p.m., Gov. Phil Murphy urged nearby residents to keep their windows closed.