NJ Mayor: Overnight Blaze 'Worst That I've Ever Seen'

Luckily, only one minor injury reported so far as firefighters continue battling fire at Passaic plant
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2022 8:15 AM CST
NJ Mayor: Overnight Blaze 'Worst That I've Ever Seen'
This image from video shows a fire near a New Jersey chemical plant on Friday in Passaic.   (Mikey B via AP)

An 11-alarm fire that broke out Friday night at a New Jersey industrial complex continued to burn into Saturday morning, but hundreds of firefighters were able to keep the blaze from reaching the main portion of a chemical plant on-site and had contained the fire as of 7am, Passaic Mayor Hector Lora tells WABC. The fire appears to have started around 8:30pm at a warehouse owned by Majestic Industries, a gaming and hospitality furniture manufacturer, and it soon spread to a nearby building used by Qualco Inc., which produces chlorine pellets for spas and swimming pools.

Passaic Fire Chief Patrick Trentacost Sr. said during a Facebook Live stream that once the fire hit Qualco's 100,000-square-foot warehouse, the building's roof and walls went up in flames, reports NBC News. However, although some chlorine tablets burned, firefighters managed to keep the blaze away from the main chlorine plant, Lora noted. "If the fire were to hit the main chemical plant, it would obviously create issues beyond what our immediate resources would be able to resolve," he said.

The only person inside the Qualco building when the fire broke out, security guard Justin Johnson, tells CBS New York that he called the fire department after noticing smoke while checking the building's water pressure. "I decided to come back to security office, called the fire department and get them down here," he said. "The alarm system went off already." Johnson doesn't appear to have been hurt.

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Firefighters worked overnight in frigid temperatures, and Trentacost notes there were multiple reports of slips and falls as water quickly froze on the ground. One firefighter was hospitalized after being hit in the face with debris, but that injury doesn't appear to be serious. "There have been bad fires but this is the worst that I've ever seen," Lora said, per NorthJersey.com. Both Lora and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy are advising local residents to stay inside and keep their windows closed, though the Department of Environmental Protection has said the air is safe to breathe. "Praying for the safety of our first responders on the scene," Murphy tweeted. (More New Jersey stories.)

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