NJ chemical plant fire under control, 'catastrophe' averted

A massive, eleven-alarm fire erupted at a factory next to a chemical plant in Passaic on Friday night, creating smoke so heavy that it was detected on weather radar and was seen and smelled in nearby New York City.

Mayor Hector Lora said the fire was located near the Qualco chemical plant off of Canal Street.  The fire was contained but still burning on Saturday morning.

Officials said the affected buildings contained housing plastics, pallets and chlorine, but catastrophe was averted. No serious injuries were reported, and no evacuation orders were issued.

Get breaking news alerts in the free FOX5NY News app!  |  Sign up for FOX 5 email newsletters

"We are requiring all residents to close your window, stay away from the immediate area," Lora said on Friday night.

The fire was prevented from reaching the main chemical plant, which could have endangered the densely populated New York City suburbs of New Jersey, Lora said.

Passaic Fire Chief Patrick Trentacost said the warehouse was vacant when the fire broke out.

"A portion of the building did have chlorine in it and that seems to be under control at this time," he said just after midnight. "We’ll be monitoring that also throughout the night but certainly we’re far from having control of the fire."

Video shared to social media showed enormous plumes of smoke drifting into the sky over the fire.

"We urge everyone in Passaic to stay safe as firefighters battle a large eight-alarm fire at a chemical plant off of Route 21," Governor Phil Murphy said in a tweet. "If you live nearby, keep your windows closed. Praying for the safety of our first responders on the scene."

One firefighter was taken to a hospital after getting hit in the face with debris, but was doing well, Trentacost said. Many other firefighters had slipped and fell while battling the flames as water used to tamp down the fire turned to ice. The chief estimated temperatures were in the teens.

Strong winds caused dangerously low wind chills made the temperatures feel much worse.

New York City emergency management authorities sent out an alert about the fire.  It warned that residents could smell or see smoke from the blaze.  The plant is about 13-miles west of Manhattan.

The cause of the fire is still unknown. 

With the Associated Press.

With the Associated Press