Fire rages at chemical plant in NJ; air quality testing ongoing

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A fire broke out at a chemical plant in Passaic, New Jersey, on Jan. 14, 2022. (Credit: Mikey B via AP)

PASSAIC, New Jersey (WPIX) – A massive fire that broke out at a New Jersey chemical plant on Friday continued to burn early Saturday morning.

Flames and smoke billowing into the night sky on Friday could be seen miles away from the facility in Passaic. The fire spread to multiple buildings in the complex and threatened to reach the plant’s chemical storage area.

Passaic Mayor Hector Lora told residents in a video on Facebook to stay away from the area and keep their windows closed. In an overnight update, the mayor and an official with the Department of Environmental Protection said crews monitoring the air quality found them to be within “acceptable” levels by state and federal standards.

No evacuation orders were necessary, as of early Saturday morning, Lora said. In another video update, Lora described the inferno as “one of the worst” fires he’d seen “in a long time.”

One firefighter was injured and taken to a hospital, but was doing well, Passaic Fire Chief Patrick Trentacost said. There were no initial reports of loss of life.

Much of the building where the fire originated collapsed within itself. The building was vacant when the fire broke out, according to Trentacost.

More than 200 firefighters from 11 companies responded to the fire Friday night. The main goal, Lora said, was to keep the flames from spreading to the plant’s main building.

The mayor said he spoke with Gov. Phil Murphy about the fire. The governor on Friday address the danger, telling those nearby to keep their windows closed.

“We urge everyone in Passaic to stay safe as firefighters battle a large … fire at a chemical plant off of Route 21,” Murphy wrote. “If you live nearby, keep your windows closed. Praying for the safety of our first responders on the scene.”

This story comprises reporting from The Associated Press.

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