11-alarm Passaic, NJ chemical fire contained, several firefighters hurt
PASSAIC — Firefighters managed to contain an 11-alarm fire at a chemical plant Friday night into Saturday morning as a number of first responders suffered minor injuries, officials said.
The intense flames and smoke were seen from the Garden State Parkway and beyond.
One firefighter was taken to the hospital with an eye injury while over a dozen firefighters suffered such minor injuries as slips and falls, Passaic Mayor Hector Lora said in a Facebook video update early Sunday. They were treated at the scene of the Majestic Industries and Qualco Inc. facility.
The fire at the Qualco plant, which produces pool-treating chemicals, was in a building that stored plastics, pallets and at least 100,000 chlorine pellets, officials said Saturday. That three-story structure collapsed, but no one was hurt.
"The fire did not reach the Qualco main Chlorine building due to the tremendous response and heroic efforts of our Firefighters from Passaic, Passaic County, Bergen County, and Essex County as well as around our State," Lora said in a separate Facebook update.
He thanked Passaic Fire Chief Patrick Trentacost as well as all the first responders who helped prevent "a terrible situation from becoming disastrous."
Nearby residents had previously been advised to close their windows but were not required to evacuate.
“This fire could have been alot worse had it not been contained as it has been,” Gov. Phil Murphy said during a Sunday afternoon winter storm briefing, adding that the fire had earlier in the day been reduced to a 4-alarm status.
Air quality was determined as remaining safe, while it would continue to be monitored by federal and state EPA officials.
Fire hydrants at the scene were frozen in ice Saturday afternoon, as temperatures remained frigid, NorthJersey.com reported, citing Trentacost and other firefighters.
It might take some time to establish the cause of the fire, Lora said.
Memories of Marcal fire
It's not the first time in recent history that the area has dealt with a massive facility fire during frigid, winter weather.
In January 2019, a 10-alarm fire in Elmwood Park tore through the Marcal Paper 16-acre facility, destroying 30 of 36 buildings. About 500 people lost their jobs due to the Marcal fire.