New York

Massive Fire Spreads To Passaic Chlorine Plant; Neighbors Told To Close Windows

PASSAIC, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A massive fire spread to a chlorine plant in Passaic on Friday night.

As of 12:30 a.m. Saturday, it had grown to 11 alarms.

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The smoke was so widespread, it shut down a major highway and could be seen nearly 10 miles away.

Passaic Mayor Hector Lora spoke to Fire Chief Patrick Trentacost on Facebook just after 12 a.m. Saturday.

Trentacost said most of the building that the fire originated in has collapsed. It was used for storage of plastics and pallets. According to Trentacost, a portion of the building had chlorine in it, but he said, “That seems to be under control at this time.”

As CBS2’s Nick Caloway reports, sirens could be heard from every direction in Passaic as the fire raged out of control.

“It’s unfortunate. You don’t know who was in there, you know? So it’s just bad to watch right now,” one resident said.

The fire started around 8:30 p.m. at two buildings on Canal Street and eventually spread to a nearby chlorine plant.

Watch Nick Caloway’s 11 p.m. report —

A fireball reached several stories high, and a toxic cloud of smoke could be seen, and smelled, miles away. New York City warned residents they may be able to see or smell smoke from the fire.

Passaic’s mayor took to Facebook to warn people who live nearby.

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“To all residents in the immediate area, please close your windows as our firefighters are desperately working to get this fire under control,” he said.

Some neighbors went to take pictures and video. Others fled in the other direction.

“Yeah, that’s why I’m heading out right now. I don’t know what these people are doing getting too close. But it’s worrying. You don’t know what’s going to happen,” resident Joel Heredia said.

“That’s why we left. We came to check it out to see how bad the situation was because we live right over there. And we don’t know if the fumes are going to come over and if it’s going to have any long-term side effects for, like, lungs or anything. So it’s really scary,” resident Sophia Liu said.

Some residents of nearby apartment buildings were not taking any chances.

Leidy Caraballo’s family packed up the car to make a run for it.

“And we see the fire, so we don’t want to wait until the fire passes our building,” she said.

The mayor and the fire chief say the only person in the buildings was a security guard, who has been accounted for. The guard says the buildings were vacant after 5 p.m.

Several roads in the area were closed because of that fire, including the nearby Route 21, which was shut down in both directions at Exit 12/Dayton Street.

The fire chief said one firefighter was transported to a local hospital after getting hit in the face by debris.

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CBS2’s Nick Caloway contributed to this report.

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